Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Medieval History Memory Game from Classical Historian

The Classical Historian gave our family Medieval History Memory Game to use and review in our homeschool. Priced at $14.95, the game contains a set of 64 cardboard cards (tiles), and is a traditional matching game. We used to call the game, "Concentration" when I was a girl.

The rules and a list of tile titles are here.

I requested this game to review for my homeschooler who is on the autism spectrum. The age recommendation is 3+, and most memory games are too young for my teenager. She needs practice holding visuals in her memory but Disney or Nickelodeon memory games aimed at preschoolers are simply too babyish for her.

The cards arrived six on a perforated page and I had them popped out in no time. One of the cards is missing part of a picture; the cards are not laminated and part of that picture was torn. We are still able to play with it, although if you have children who tend to be destructive, this is one game you may need to watch. (As a two year old, my child with autism sometimes tore heavy-duty board books in two with her bare hands.)

This memory game is a super learning tool for a child with special needs. We limit our game to just 20 cards at a time, and we could choose to limit to a smaller number. My kid likes to look at, read, the cards, match them face up, too, and exposure to new terms and vocabulary is always a good thing. We use a lot of index cards at my house and in this case, we can write vocab on the index cards and look up them up and define them on the cards.

Playing the game on the bed makes it seem less like school.

I like this game. We'll be able to work through the cards slowly, learning about each place or person. The box is small enough to take along with us. We can take it to Nana and Poppa's when we visit and play it with the little cousins. I like introducing new material in unique ways.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sweet 16

Sixteen years ago today, I became a mom. As I got to know my new baby girl in the hospital, I never imagined she'd be away from home on her Sweet 16. She's at camp. I've been sneaking cards into the mail so she'd have mail when she arrives. And I managed to sneak a box of surprises to camp with friends. I hope the goodies reached her counselor in time for an early morning surprise. :)
I tried to organize a birthday card blast for her, too. Hopefully, she'll get a big stack of mail. I can't wait to see her Friday night!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Body Talk, Teaching Students with Disabilities about Body Language

Every so often, I get a surprise in the mail. In April, Woodbine House sent me a review copy of Body Talk, Teaching Students with Disabilities about Body Language by Pat Crissey. I was given a copy of this book at no charge to me to review for you on my blog. I am not obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions here are my own.

Crissey provides six chapters focusing on non-verbal "channels" of communication (emotions, facial expressions, posture, body orientation and eye gaze, personal space and touching, gestures) and a seventh chapter for putting them all together. A book description is available here.

Body Talk is meant to be used in a classroom setting, although parents working with children at home may find some of the information and activities useful and many of the activities can be adapted for small groups or a single child.

As I study Body Talk, I realize that through our developmental approaches of intervention, we have given our daughter w/ an ASD experience in many of the skills mentioned in the book by Pat Crissey, and the experience we have given her has happened via real-life, in-context, between-you-and-me situations.  I would not want to teach a child some of these skills through worksheets and activities from a book like this one. I have been fortunate to have had coaching to help me give my child experience in these areas of body language without sitting her down to a worksheet or group activity out of context. I'll just come out and say it: Crissey's approach is not my favorite approach.

In our own experience at my house, with the help of a professional, we learned to use ourselves differently with our child with autism. We were given goals and objectives and we were given coaching on how to give our daughter experience and practice in the goal and objective. I think of an image of a stage that is filled with too much stuff, so much that concentrating on the actor at center stage is difficult. Dim the lights on the stage, put a single spotlight on the actor, and the distractions disappear. We work in real-life-between-you-and-me  moments during our day that are in context where we slow down and give her the processing time she needs to be mindful and respond. 

We taught our daughter to gesture by gesturing. We teach her to communicate non-verbally by 'non-verbaling". (I made up that term.) When we were given the assignment to slow down, be quiet, and use more gestures in order to spotlight them, our daughter began gesturing naturally without a single worksheet or program or direct prompt. We began gesturing with her in an intentional way and giving her the time to process and respond and all of a sudden, she was gesturing as she interacted with us. That blew my mind. We'd never given her the opportunities before. Slowing down, being quiet, waiting, giving her processing and response time (45-60 seconds) made her an active participant.

Body Talk takes those goals and objectives that we work into our days rather invisibly and turns them into visible, concrete worksheets and activities. Implicit vs explicit learning. I desire more implicit learning for my child as I have seen the benefits of implicit learning and the shortcomings of explicit learning. I don't want my child to study the difference between relaxed and tense postures in a worksheet at a conscious level. I want her to experience them between people and sense them without stopping to consciously think about whether that person's posture is relaxed or tense.

If you are a parent or professional looking for a workbook with ideas and worksheets and activities to teach body language from the outside in, explicitly, I think you'll like this resource. This is a teacher resource for a class or group of students.  If you are like me, working on implicit, from the inside-out learning, you may still like Body Talk for the lists of objectives and goals you can create from the information inside. Body Talk becomes a resource to help me check off some skills and to make a list of skills we need to spotlight and focus on outside of a worksheet. I would recommend Body Talk for what to teach but not how to teach it.

Priced at $29.95, the book is available from Woodbine House here. Body Talk is a 300 page paperback in an 8.5 x 11 easy-to-photocopy format that comes with a companion CD-ROM of activities, printables, information.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How Do We Know God Is Really There?

Apologia and Author Melissa Cain Travis and illustrator Christopher Voss bring us, How Do We Know God Is Really There?

The Apologia web page summarizes the story nicely: 

Thomas and his father escape to their backyard tree house most evenings to watch the night sky through a telescope. Thomas is dazzled by what he sees of God’s creation, but he has questions. “Dad, how do we know God is out there?” he asks one night. “I know the Bible says He’s there. But how do we really know that’s true?” Together, Thomas and his father begin to examine the cosmological evidence for God’s existence. This is the first in an exciting new series of picture books designed to introduce kids to important questions of the Christian faith in terms even pre-readers can understand. Read this aloud with your family, and you’ll come away knowing that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1).

My homeschooler with autism has academic delays, and too many words on a page creates anxiety. She sometimes thinks that a book is too difficult if her "too many words on a page" meter sounds. How Do We Know God Is Really There is laid out nicely for a child whose anxiety rises with reading. The layout has text on one side of the page with an illustration on the other side.

How Do We Know God Is Really There introduces us to astronomer Edwin Hubble and his discovery "...that the galaxies in our universe are moving away from each other...and the farther apart the galaxies get, the faster they move."

I am challenged to explain to my daughter how God is with us without the idea of His being with us not being scary to her. I was hoping this story would get us a little closer to explaining it in a way she can be comfortable with. It is a start. And it's the first in a series. Perhaps the next books will help add to my daughter's understanding.

The hardback book is approximately 46 pages in length and is priced at $16.00.

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