Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baseball etc

Our son had three baseball games today.
One yesterday.
The girls and I went to one of the three games today.
We won the first three games.
The fourth game is in progress as I type.
During the baseball game, the girls opened a new board game:
I found a Cirkis game by Hasbro on clearance at Target.
Reg price was $14.99; I bought it for under $4.
I adore a bargain.
And just look at the visual discrimination and critical thinking skills this game lets players experience...

Finds from Michaels and Target gave the girls lots to do during the baseball game.

The play scape was empty today. No gang of teens blocking the slide.

Internet Safety

I have two children begging me for an e-mail and facebook account. They research schoolwork on the internet. One looks at sports online. All of my children like internet based game sites.

We have guided our kids to "good" web sites. We've set limits and boundaries. And still, despite our efforts and monitoring, we've seen a child go to an area thought "safe" which was not, and we spent time and money cleaning up a virus. We installed even more protection software. We still talk to them about safety.

When Jossey-Bass Teacher offered me two books on internet safety to review, I did not have to think about my answer. YES, please!

Jossey-Bass Teacher has published two brand new books for parents and teachers about internet safety - one book targets the K-8 crowd; the other targets grades 9-12.

iSAFE Internet Safety Activities and iSAFE Internet Life Skills Activities

Both books contain reproducible projects for use at home for homeschoolers or for school-building schoolers who supplement at home; at school; homeschool co-op; even church (would make a neat short-term youth study, I think, although it certainly isn't Biblical or religious in any way. When we were teens, one weeknight each week, our youth group from church met at the home of one of the group with our leaders to talk about topics relevant to teens.). Each book is priced at $29.95. Both books are designed to lie flat on a photocopy machine for easy copying.

I had no idea what to expect, exactly. I'm impressed. Based on my experience as a mom, I think that the authors know how to introduce sensitive material to different age groups in developmentally appropriate ways.

The standards in the book for younger children come from the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NET-S): TheNext Generation Standards 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.

The book for younger students, which includes a teacher's guide introduces students to the internet with a chapter on safety and covers internet searching ("safari"), cyber-bullying, managing personal information online, approaching strangers online, and "Cyber Citizenship and Netiquette Sense" in a progression that has younger children learning the earlier topics and older children learning the latter topics. There are activity pages for the students to complete and activities to do on the computer.

The book for high schoolers also includes a teacher's guide and covers internet shopping, banking, research, and computer security; interacting with others in social and gaming settings online; search skills, job hunting, money management, income taxes; online forms, communication basics, safety considerations when working wireless, and public wireles access considerations; and issues that center around college and continuing education. It raises a lot of issues I haven't discussed with my kids yet, and I would consider using this one with students as young as 5th or 6th grade. (One of my kids sometimes asks for permission to buy something online. I keep hoping that enough no's will extinguish the issue, but so far, it has not. Now is the time to go over some of this material.)

If you're looking for a ready-made internet safety product, consider one of these books. The book for younger students is designed to be used over several years. The lessons in the front of the book are written toward a younger audience. In my opinion, the book for high schoolers can be used from start to finish with any one age group in that grade range, although parts of it are appropriate for children a bit younger. Some of the book for older students will more appeal to high schoolers preparing for life after graduation and may not seem relevant to freshmen and sophomores. They thought of topics I hadn't yet. Maybe you'll experience that, too, when you see the books.

Jossey-Bass Teacher sent me two books at no charge to me, iSAFE Internet Safety Activities and iSAFE Internet Life Skills Activities to review. I receive no other compensation for reviews and am not obligated to produce a positive review.

Reading Comprehension Boosters

Reading comprehension is a big focus at my house, but maybe not in the way you'd define reading comprehension. Individuals on the autism spectrum often struggle with comprehension. I am learning that children need lots of experiences in their "experience banks", where they are comprehending meaning between themselves and others, in order to grow comprehension skills, and we have concentrated more on the "between people" experiences as a foundation to reading.

As my daughter and I focus on shared reading and more guided reading, I am trying to build comprehension a little at a time. (It shoots her anxiety to the sky.) One of my challenges is knowing when to STOP. I always have the desire to push for a little more (which contributes to the anxiety and I try very hard to stop before the anxiety rises).

Thomas G. Gunning and Jossey-Bass Teacher have given me a book of 100 Lessons for Building Higher-Level Literacy: Reading Comprehsion Boosters. The lessons are short, well-planned with a clear stopping point (which I really, really need), and target students working in grades 3-5. This one arrived at my house at a great time. ;)

Click on the link or the photo of the book cover to see the table of contents and sample chapter.

The back cover of the book explains what's inside: "Lessons include easily reproduced worksheets grouped within six thematic units. Each unit builds background knowledge and focuses on an important aspect of comprension: 1) comprehending main ideas and details and visualizing; 2) summarizing; 3) inferring, predicting, and concluding; 4) understanding facts versus opinions; 5) comparing and contrasting; and 6) review and application. These units gradually build in level of challenge so that students gain proficiency and confidence as they move along." Here's one of my favorite parts, "Each unit includes a teacher section that offers extensive guidance on how to introduce the lessons to the students and support them in their develop;ment of essential reading and responding skills."

Priced at $29.95, Reading Comprehsion Boosters is one lesson/activity after another, based upon themes that are interesting and fun to children. Gunning provides charts and other visuals and graphics to scaffold and organize the answers to questions in a way that provides useful and concrete strategies for students (and for homeschool teachers like me as I continue to better learn how to teach my own child who happens to have unique learning needs and challenges).

The book is constructed so that it lies flat to make photocopying easy for multiple students. Sometimes, I make two copies so that I have one and my daughter has a copy and we work through a lesson together, and I plan to use that strategy with lessons from this book as well. Thumbs up from me.

Jossey-Bass Teacher sent me a complimentary copy of Reading Comprehension Boosters, 100 Lessons for Building Higher-Level Literacy by Thomas G Gunning to review. I receive no other compensation and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Teacher's Activity-A-Day 5-Minute Fundamentals

I am often looking for an activity that I can use to reinforce and practice a particular concept for my homeschooler. I use the internet to look up activities. The internet can be time consuming (I get off track easily, which complicates my search and wastes time) and because I don't have access to a laptop during the school day, I am not able to search when I am in a waiting room while my daughter is in an autism therapy.

Jossey-Bass Teacher has given me a solution to my problems in the form of a series of books for teachers. Books that offer activities and ideas are super waiting room companions.

I received two new books in the series to review for you.

Priced at $19.95 each, The Algebra Teacher's Activity-A-Day by Frances McBroom Thompson and The Grammar Teacher's Activity-A-Day by Jack Umstatter offer teachers 180 lessons to offer students practice in those subject areas. Click on the photos of the book to take you to pages where you may look inside each book.

The algebra book targets grades 6-12; the grammar book, grades 5-12, and, my non-expert opinion says these grade ranges are right on target. My homeschooler is not ready for the algebra book (my son may be - he will begin pre-algebra in September).

The activities are short and specific, targeting one concept or skill. I like that. I don't have to create a bunch of sentences to revise or make up an algebra problem - Frances McBroom Thompson did that for me in the algebra book and Jack Umstatter did that for me in the grammar book (and they provide an answer code in the backs of the books). I will be able to use some of the grammar activities right away with my homeschooler (who is in the age range for that grade, but is working a few grade levels behind), but not all of them - this particular book will last me several years.

And I will be looking to purchase other books in this series that target activities for students in lower grades. This series will be very useful as we continue to homeschool a child on the autism spectrum.

Jossey-Bass Teacher sent me complimentary copies of The Algebra Teacher's Activity-A-Day by Frances McBroom Thompson and The Grammar Teacher's Activity-A-Day by Jack Umstatter to review. I receive no other compensation and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

The Teacher's BIG BOOK of Graphic Organizers

The Teacher's Big Book of Graphic Organizers: 100 Reproducible Organizers that Help Kids with Reading, Writing, and the Content Areas by Katherine S. McKnight is exactly what the title describes, 100 visual scaffolds to reading, writing, and the content areas, (English, math, social studies, science, health).

Katherine S. McKnight has compiled an incredible collection of graphic organizers for students. The grade range listed on the book cover is 5-12; I know that my children have used some of these in lower grades.

As a homeschooling parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I am excited as I flip through the pages of this book and see the possibilities. McKnight has turned so many "invisible" concepts in to CONCRETE VISUALS for *any* learner, and in my opinion, students of a broader age/grade range that the author recommends.

Some of the pages are familiar to us. The Venn Diagram, for example. Many are new to me, and are quite creative. Check out the table of contents.

I really like the way a concept is broken down into parts and visually arranged on a page, adding a rich element, something tangible, that is missed with a verbal description, alone.

Each of the 100 graphic organizers is presented over two pages, with one page offering a grade range (which is 4-12; 5-12; or 6-12 in the book, but I can see many uses for my child who is working at lower grade levels); a meter that lets the user know whether each organizer is easy, medium, or hard; a list of subject areas to use with each organizer; a list of what skills and functions the students will practice and develop with each organizer; and finally, a copy of a completed page with examples of "tips for classrooom implementation". Peek at a sample chapter.

For all students, but especially for a student in the autism spectrum, there are quite a few pages that visually scaffold steps to inferencing, to perspective taking, to visualization, to predicting, to using prior knowledge.

For a visually-impaired student or a student with fine-motor challenges (which make staying within the lines difficult), I would consider raising the lines on the pages by adding a "bead" of liquid white glue and allowing it to dry prior to using a page with that student.

The book is designed to lie flat for easy photocopying. Purchasers of the book receive a web site and password to access the graphic organizers in pdf form online.

This is a book that every homeschool parent, every school-building school teacher, every special ed teacher would be able to use. I imagine even church staff would appreciate this book for Bible studies with students of all ages.

The Teacher's BIG BOOK of Graphic Organizers by Katherine S. McKnight
ISBN: 978-0-470-50242-6
224 pages
June 2010, Jossey-Bass
US $22.95

Jossey-Bass Teacher, an Imprint of Wiley, sent me The Teacher's BIG BOOK of Graphic Organizers, at no charge, to review. I receive no other compensation for review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On One Condition

I have sometimes compared the way my daughter (the one on the autism spectrum) is learning to speak to that of an individual learning a foreign language. English is our only language, yet, there are times when she seems to be learning English as a foreign language.

Sometimes, she memorizes sentences and phrases without comprehension and meaning, yet is able to use them in context. (Sometimes, it creates quite a pickle, too.)

This week, I encountered another example. Her brother was playing a video game that was unfamiliar to him, but familiar to her. He asked her a question about it, and she replied,

"I'll help you on one condition!"

Our question to her was, "What's the one condition?" She was stumped. (I wish you could have seen the expression on her face as she realized she didn't know what it means. Priceless. An ah-ha moment, for sure.) She told me, "I don't know what 'one condition' means, Mom! What does it mean?"

I gave her a couple of examples on the spot, but I'm not sure I defined it for her. I'll have to look for opportunities to use the term/phrase in context with her.

Use of words, "talk", and language is not an indicator of comprehension and understanding, and parents, teachers, professionals, and even stranger teens on the playground and their parents can misunderstand a child's level of understanding by using words, "talk", and language as a barometer. I wish more people understood that fact.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How To Store Lego®

On an internet group of homeschooling parents, one of the topics of discussion is how to store massive collections of Lego®. There are lots of neat answers.

Here's what my mother did:

When my brother and I were kids, my brother had a gazillion (slight exaggeration) Lego® pieces. He played w/ them a lot. My mother purchased a cardboard cutting board from a fabric store - it was a huge piece of cardboard that looked like giant graph paper with squares and numbers all over it. It was flat enough to scoot under a couch or bed and my brother was able to leave his towns and villages and roads in place and simply slide the board under the bed when Mom asked him to clean up. It was big enough for play and loose pieces in piles, too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coordinating With Others

The object of this game at the museum is to pass the pool balls in a circle without letting them touch one another. This is the second attempt (the kids cut their original time by about half):

I watched my daughter with autism in awe. Her history passed through my mind. How hard we've worked. How far she's come. She blended in so easily, shifting attention between the two children on either side of her and the moving pool balls. Did she mess up? Yes. They all did. Yet, her referencing, coordination, co-regulation, motor planning are coming together to let her enjoy a brand new experience. As I stood there watching, I wondered how on earth we'd have tried to teach her to do this (and the other games they played in this play exhibit in the museum) in our aba days.

Review Preview

I enjoy connecting families with resources. I get a kick from recommending a resource that meets a need when the family was not aware of that resource. I tend to find that school-building school families of children in special education often supplement at home on nights and weekends, purchasing products from special-needs catalogs and suppliers, families whom I consider to be part-time homeschoolers, but are generally clueless regarding products marketed to homeschoolers. I was clueless until I began full-time homeschooling. And I'm learning that a lot of homeschoolers don't know the resources for specialized education that are marketed to the school-building school community.

With the idea of connecting families to resources, I have several reviews in various stages of draft-mode that will be published in coming days or weeks.

I never know if I'll have just one or two or if I'll have many review items. I'm often surprised by a package in the mail. FYI: Currently, I have quite a few review items in my pending box.

The third voyage of The Old Schoolhouse's Homeschool Crew of product and resource reviewers has officially set sail with two reviews up and more in the works. This year, the Crew has twice as many reviewers, so I will likely receive fewer products than I did in previous years. Be sure to check the main Homeschool Crew blog for all of the product reviews. Some of my Crewmates have been assigned to products that I will not be reviewing.

My list of TOS Homeschool Crew reviews completed or in process is located in the right-hand side bar of my blog. (Links to reviews of the past two years are also in the right-hand side bar; simply scroll down to see them.) At this point in our new season of reviewing, I know that I will be reviewing Math Essentials, PyraMath, and Vocabulary Cartoons. The PyraMath game arrived over a week ago and I am previewing it at this point. I see some opportunities to adapt this one for a child with autism.

Travel, baseball, and illness (double ear infection, two antibiotics, with one of them upsetting my tummy bigtime) have me behind my own schedule for completing some non-TOS reviews. I have at least one more baseball weekend and a little more travel coming up.

These resources are in my current review pile:

Did you know that Paula Kluth's, "You're Going to Love this Kid!: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom" has been published in a second edition?! I'm part of the way through this one.

I'm part of the way through this one, too: Teaching How to Learn in a What-to-Learn Culture by Kathleen R. Hopkins.

This one, which I've just begun, is going to be really interesting, I think: Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools by Milton Chen, with a forward by George Lucas. I saw the forward and thought, "the 'Star Wars' George Lucas???" Yes, that one.

Diane Craft sent me a couple of resources. If you have a child with learning challenges or developmental delays and you've not heard of Diane Craft, I urge you to take a peek at her web site. One of my TOS Crewmates introduced me to her web site. I have the audio CD, "The Biology of Behavior," and Brain Integration TherapItalicy Manual, 2010 Edition.

Hopefully, now that we're home for several weeks, I can begin to cook from The Autism Cookbook.Italic The cookbook is beautiful; the reviews, notsomuch. Tis time to try some of the recipes at my house.

I have eight new titles coming from Wiley and/or Jossey-Bass that look exciting for those of us who work with and teach students. Book topics include two books about internet safety, grammar, literacy, pre-algebra, RTI, graphic organizers, and leadership coaching.

I'm also waiting for a couple of resources to help young ladies learn about their menstrual periods, resources that I hope are autism friendly.

I have to hit the road with my homeschooler to visit our "autism" consultant, and as we continue our developmental remediation journey, I hope to post more about that. I don't want this blog to be one review after another. I want this blog to be a place of encouragement as well as a source of information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

FREE Digital Issue of TOS magazine

Traditionally, The Old Schoolhouse includes a larger number of articles about homeschooling students with special learning challenges in the summer issue. No, they don't ignore us the rest of the year, but this issue is more heavily weighted to topics dealing with special needs. This year's summer issue is no exception. I received my snail-mail copy of it, Saturday.

Today, I learned that TOS is making the digital version of this magazine available to anyone who would like it, for free.

Just go here:

Be sure to check out the interview with Kathy Bolduc; the articles by Carol Barnier and Heather Laurie, for starters.

Together Again (and signs of progress)

We picked up eldest from camp yesterday, and I love how the sibs interacted after being apart for a week-and-a-half. (So, I can't take a clear photo while walking. Oh well. I still love this photo:)
I was completely dreading a bit anxious about the final concert. Last year, the skating princess was unable to sit through the concert, and her behavior had people staring and me chasing her during the concert.

This year, I chose seats halfway up, in the front row of the section with benches, giving her room to move around. I had hard candy for oral motor proprioception. Her dad walked with her until the concert began, getting wiggles out. And we all crossed our fingers when the concert began.

The unknown length of the concert creates anxiety for my girl. The program looked long. Would she be able to control her screeching and defiance and sit respectfully through the concert, even when she didn't want to be there? How would the memory of how she (didn't) cope last year affect her this year?

There are so many things, developmentally speaking, to have to come together for an event like this, for a child on the autism spectrum. Until I had a child on the autism spectrum, I had no idea. Just the level of joint attention is huge, knowing that Mom and Dad want to watch the concert, that others around us want you to be quiet is big. Co-ordinating and co-regulating yourself with the strangers around you, avoiding bumping into someone next to you, is a challenge. Following the program is yet another skill which includes figuring out which symbol means the band is about to play and which symbol means the orchestra is about to play. Having the desire to run away and scream and screech in protest out of anxiety and fear of the unknown and a memory from last year must have been gi-normous. Having the self-control to suppress the desire to run and scream is even bigger than gi-normous, especially when there was an absolutely gorgeous lake behind the band shell, visible from where we were sitting. (Can you see the lake? The photo is deceiving, I think. The lake is much closer than it appears, below.)
Amazingly, she held her own. She sat with us the entire time and asked several times if the concert was about to be over, and she asked to go to a restaurant to get something to eat, but for the most part, kept her voice low and, for her, calm (which I would translate to mean only slightly screechy).

That, my friends, is a SUCCESS! Maybe some of our practice in collaboration is paying off.

After the concert, SISTERS:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blowin' in the wind...

We had another opportunity to see The World's Largest Working Weathervane over the weekend.

First, an FBA and BIP for a killer whale; now, an elephant

As the serious issue of seclusion and restraint is being debated within the U.S. legal system, (yet ANOTHER great reason to homeschool!) with parents of children in special education begging for FBAs and BIPs for their children to avoid the need for restraint and seclusion in the first place, I see another *animal* is in the news with an FBA and BIP. Last time, it was a killer whale. This time, it's an elephant.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Those were the good ol' days...

We are planning a trip to pick up eldest from camp, which involves a three-hour drive across the state. We are looking at travel books for some things to do near the camp the night before we pick up our girl.

Younger sister was reading a travel book last night that includes activities in a five or six state area: "Ah, Indiana," I heard her sigh, wistfully, "where Holiday World is. Oh, those were the good ol' days!" (We were there just a month ago.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Garlicky Green Bean Salad

My friend, Candace, e-mailed me this recipe today. She didn't know that I have fresh green beans in the refrigerator. ;)

Garlicky Green Bean Salad

6 cups fresh green beans, cut in half
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp wine vinegar
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Cook the green beans. When done, cool, then put into the refrigerator to chill.

While the beans are chilling, make the dressing: Mash the garlic and salt together. Stir in the vinegar and mustard. Gradually beat in the oil with a whisk. Grind on the pepper.

Add the dressing to the beans and stir well. Keep in the refrigerator until an hour before serving time. Let come to room temperature and stir well before serving.

This is best made a day or two before serving so the flavors can blend.

(Adapted from ideas in The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash, Alfred A. Knopf, 1982)


The Critical Thinking Co has free printable activities for us.

No, I am not an affiliate; I earn nothing if you decide to purchase from them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bizarre Traffic

My blog is getting traffic that I do not understand. According to the new gadget I installed that shows where recent visitors to this blog are located, one visitor is returning to the same page over and over and over and over and over for days and days and days:

A visitor from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin viewed "Homeschooling, Autism, & "Stuff" : Journal Pad - sale alert" 28


TOS e-book: Travel Kits (A TOS Crew Review)

My husband and I happen to live a day's drive away from our families. We travel more than 600 miles one way to get "home". That's a long day for an adult; it seems even longer to children; and even longer to the adults in the vehicle with the children when the children are ready to be there. Traffic jams and road construction can add time to the trip.

I cruise around sale racks year round looking for an activity book or non-messy craft that I can buy in multiples and set aside for our long drives to see family far away.

I've gotten to be pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. ;) Well, I thought I was good at it, until I read this e-book.

When I got the opportunity to review this "Travel Kits" book, I said, "Yes, please!" for myself. The subtitle is "A Simple Way To Bless Others" and yes, I'd like to be able to create travel kits for other families, but I'll be honest: I wanted this e-book to see if there are tricks and ideas that I have not thought of yet for my own crew.

My mother often had goodies ready to give my children as we were about to pull out of the driveway after a visit with her and Dad and head 600+ miles back to our house - she's been a creator of travel kits for a long time. ;)

I was in a hurry to peek inside the e-book. Author Donna Rees *clearly* has the love language of gift giving. Of course, I got as far as page 8 before I began feeling guilty about my motives:

WHY: To bless others! Jesus exhorted us to do to others as we would have them do to us. (See Luke 6:31.) Travel kits are a great way to love and serve others. If you’re like me, you’ll discover that giving pleasure to others will delight you more than anyone else, even though your own delight is not your motive. And God loves a cheerful giver; He said so. (See 2 Corinthians 9:7.)

Oh well. At least I'm honest. One reason I wanted to peek at this one is because we have some travel on the calendar in the next few months. I got the e-book the day prior to leaving for a day-long drive (not enough time to create a kit for my kids, but we have several trips planned, some short ones, this summer).

"Travel Kits, A Simple Way To Bless Others" is a 93 page e-book available for purchase at TOS store.

Click HERE to see a sample of the e-book.

I anticipated the e-book targeting kits mostly for the littles. I'm pleased to tell you that there are ideas for kits for older children and for the parents, too. There are lots of color photos to give me a visual of how a finished kit might look.

The title could be a bit more broad; I can think of other ways to bless families (including me blessing my own children) with a kit. I am thinking of a new kit for my daughter for some of her brother's baseball games. Maybe that would keep her occupied for a little while so that I can watch some of his game. Chapter Twelve, Variations on a Theme, does address other uses for travel kits, including prepping daily surprises for a child away at an extended adventure or camp. (I have one child attending a camp part of this month.)

GFCFers: There are a couple of snack recipes in the book; they are NOT gfcf. Not a big deal for me. (Note to self: Ask some GFCFers to help me create a list of appropriate food items.)

The section of the e-book that offers tips from travelers is excellent and offers travel tips from a mom who is blind who is also the parent of a child who is blind.

AUTISM INTERVENTION VALUE: Putting together a travel kit, camp kit, baseball game kit etc requires perspective taking and attention sharing at multiple levels. Travel kits are a wonderful way to practice perspective taking and attention sharing in context with a child on the autism spectrum. As you think about what you might put into a kit for another person or family, you must ask a lot of questions, putting yourselves in their shoes. Are there food allergies in the family? What snacks might be too messy for the car? If we include a chocolate bar, should we include a package of wipes, too? Are there small children on the trip, small enough that we have to be mindful of avoiding small items, like beads in kits? Where is the destination and how will that affect what we put in the kit? We might not include a deflated beach ball for a family going snow skiing. Donna Rees does a wonderful job walking readers though the steps of perspective taking and attention sharing as we think about preparing a kit for a specific family and trip or event.

I haven't used the ideas for traveling, yet. I had to make a very long drive without the ideas from the e-book (because it arrived too close in time to my trip). I have used the ideas for baseball games and for camp. The picture at the left is my younger daughter playing with an item from her "kit" at one of her brother's baseball games. I bought enough items to share in case other little girls were attending the baseball game.

My older daughter is at a fine arts camp with her french horn. I mailed a music themed box to her (friends helped me brainstorm ideas) that included paper clips shaped like musical symbols, Symphony candy bars, ink pens with "Rock!" written on them, stickers of musical instruments (including a french horn, of course), stickers of musical notes, stickers with guitars, a wood cutout guitar w/ markers to decorate (like the cutout my younger daughter is decorating in the photo at left). I sent some glow sticks and some ugly teeth for the whole cabin. I sent it two days ago; she won't get the box until tomorrow, and, since she's away for another week, I won't know her reaction until after this review is published.

Rees helps readers prep a basket for a sick neighbor or friend, too. There are lots of reasons to give a kit.

Extra costs: Printing costs (this e-book has beautiful color photos, making it more expensive if you choose to print in color).

To read the reviews about this product by my Crewmates, go HERE.

TOS gave me a complimentary (review) copy of the TOS e-book, Travel Kits, to review on this blog. I received no financial compensation for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Trash Talking

I must share a note that I wrote earlier today:

Twins are competing on the Wii. Sis is *winning*. And she's *trash talking* her brother. I wish I had the video camera. She's boasting, reminding him of losses, telling him there's probably nothing he can beat her at. Oh my. Those of us who know us, know our situation, know this is a reason to have a party! lol

They looked and sounded like typical sibs for a moment, and they were having so much fun!

There are moments when conditions are just right, where interaction is set at the right speed for my girl to process, and there are few enough attention grabbers that she is able to shift attention among them all with ease and competence. I love these moments.

"God Knows My Name" by Beth Redman

I have had my share of dark days since my child was diagnosed with autism nine years ago. The isolation of the parent of a child with autism can be depressing and lonely.

I am looking for someone who has walked a similar path of isolation, a someone who can encourage me.

Beth Redman does that in "God Knows My Name".

Redman is not an autism mom, but she knows what isolation is. She shares on page 89, "There have been so many times we have clung to both our sanity and our faith by our fingernails, but faith and trust in God Almight brought us through."

On a rough day with autism, I completely "get" that.

Redman reminds me in a relatable way of examples from her own life and Biblical examples that all of us have rough times, sometimes very rough and rocky times, and she reminds me, through scripture, that God indeed knows my name; He created me for a relationship with Him; and that I am not isolated and alone, that He is there with me, for me.

"God Knows My Name" comes with a study guide at the end, with a Bible reading, discussion questions, and a prayer. I think "God Knows My Name" would make an excellent study for a group of autism moms, although the discussion questions can be private journal questions, too, in an individual study. This book arrived at a good time for me. Thanks, Beth, for sharing your story and encouragement with me.

"God Knows My Name" is priced at $12.99, specially priced at CBD now for $9.99, and will be available in early August, 2010.

The B&B Media Group sent me a review copy of God Knows My Name, Never Forgotten, Forever Loved, by Beth Redman. I received no financial compensation for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Travel the World, Schoolhouse Planner June Module e-book (TOS Crew Review)

I get a little bit excited when I'm offered a unit study from TOS to review or given one as a freebie with a purchase. !!!!!!! I've seen enough of them to know that they mean quality, versatility, and opportunities to learn. The June 2010 Module is no exception. Priced at $7.95, this particular module is 56 pages** in length, and features a topic that my homeschooler has been asking about lately (other countries), and is titled "Travel the World".

**Note: Of the 56 pages, four pages at the beginning of the module include the cover page, info page, and TOC. Four pages at end of the module are ads and one page is a link to other for-purchase resources at TOS store.

One of the neat aspects of this kind of product is that we are able to click on the live links and go to more information about a subject quickly, without having to sort through a long list of hits on what can turn out to be a wild and crazy internet search. Sometimes an internet search turns into so many rabbit trails we can't remember where we began, and the live links directly to a solid source eliminate the issue of rabbit trails. (I do crack up a little when a live link in a resource for homeschoolers takes me to a govt school web site.)

The June 2010 module offers a variety of activities for the littles through high school.

The versatility of the modules is wonderful for a child with scattered skills-a parent can more easily individualize by picking and choosing activities that fit each skill set. A family with several children at different ages would be able to tailor to developmental levels, too. We don't work through them from beginning to end as a unit study. We take smaller sections to work through. My big challenge is finding a way to catalog my e-books in a way that I can locate what I need when I need it.
Some of the activities and puzzles are good to print and load into a clipboard for travel or waiting rooms.

Additional costs: You will need a computer, printer, paper, and toner or access to a computer and printer to use some of the activities in the e-book. Some of you may choose to print the entire book, although you'll still need to use the e-book online in order to access those live links to more information and games.

I really like the e-modules because we can use them our way - to follow an interest in depth and we can create our own little unit study by using part of one. They have always fit a need at our house where relationship development is at the front and center of our autism intervention. When I find something we can do together to address relationship goals and objectives, to give my daughter practice in between-you-and-me, while sneaking in some academics, that's a win-win for me.

A sample of the module is available for download HERE.

To read the reviews of this product by other Crewmates, please visit our Crew blog.

I was given a complimentary copy of the June 2010 Module of The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner, "Travel the World" to review. I am not financially compensated for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Does she feel like that all the time?

I heard part of a Steven Wright comedy concert on the radio. One of his jokes sent me wondering about my daughter with autism:

"You know how it feels when you're leaning back on a chair, and you lean too far back, and you almost fall over backwards, but then you catch yourself at the last second? I feel like that all the time."

Do individuals with autism feel something like that all the time?

Read more:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Finally Skating Again!

A entire month has passed since my Skating Princess was last on the ice. Travel, illness, the coach's vacation, transporting a sib to camp have kept us away from the arena.

I didn't know if the Skating Princess's legs would tremble and wobble today or not.

She amazes me! She had a fantastic session today!

This exercise sometimes has her screeching in protest.

Check out this scaffold:
Being off the ice for a month meant my girl needed a little practice on some skills to remember how they work:

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