Monday, March 30, 2009

Whale Pop-Up Book

As part of our continuing study on the ocean, today we studied whales. A17 made a very cute whale pop-up book. It was very easy to do by following the template. I helped with the cutting and the writing. I found this idea and reproducibles in the Evan Moor How to Make Books with Children Series: Read a Book-Make a Book. This book has projects for 38 different books such as Stellaluna, How to Eat Fried Worms and Peter Rabbit. The projects can be adapted for a variety of different stories. For example, the duckling pop-up could be used for any story about deucks or Easter. In addition to pop-ups, the projects also include layered books, pull tab books, slit books, and double hinged books.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Since I have mentioned Boardmaker on several other posts I wanted to elaborate on it a bit. Boardmaker is software that is used by people with disabilities to communicate, for visual schedules, and to assist with learning.

Boardmaker software from Mayer-Johnson can be used in several ways. You can print out picture cards with it to use for communication. We have used these picture cards in A17's lapbooks too. It can also be used with Boardmaker add-ons to make books, all types of schedules, worksheets, etc. Boardmaker pictures can be used to make interactive books and games. These pictures are often used in PECS ( Picture Exchange Communication System ) too.

Boardmaker offers other software such as Boardmaker Plus and Boardmaker Speaking Dynamically Pro. These are used on the computer for intereactive learning games or on speech devices such as Dynavox.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ocean Craft Projects

A17 is really enjoying doing crafts this year--especially foam projects. As part of our ocean unit we have completed several neat projects.

I found this foam fish bowl and bucket of foam sticky backed ocean shapes at Joann's. They were on sale and I used my teacher discount card.

The plastic fish bowl is an idea I adapted from Family Fun magazine. For their project they put magnets under the lid and a paper ckip in the fish for it to stand up. We couldn't get that to work right, so we weighted down the bottom with sand, shells, and glass rocks ( all from Joanns) and put foam shapes taped to pipe cleaners. Turned out cute I think!

The last project is an idea from the Hands of a Child Clownfish lapbook. I had to adapt it a bit for DS. Instead of using the pattern included in the pack, we used a foam shape. It's taped to a popsicle stick that was cut in half. We cut a styrofoam ball in half. A17 painted it. Next we cut pipe cleaners in half and stuck them into the styrofoam to make it look like anemones. We then stuck the fish in and put the whole thing on a plastic magarine lid.


Recently on the Five in the Row boards and Homeschoolshare boards, moms have been talking about a new way to organize the school day using Sue Patrick's Workbox System. She developed this system to help her son who has autism, but it can help any child or parent who is looking for more structure or organization in their school day. Her book ( either spiral bound or ebook) explains the system in detail and gives lots of ideas. With purchase of the book, you will be able to download forms and cards to get started. For convenience, these are also available for purchase on her website--already printed and laminated. The cards use Boardmaker pictures which is helpful since A17 is familar with it. One of the cards is a work with Mom card. This is used to tell students which activities are to be done with Mom and which are to be done independently.

Very simplified, the system has you use 6-12 plastic shoeboxes on a rack and put one piece of work into each box. The idea is to promote independence, focus, and attention in a structured learning environment. The student sees what work is expected and as the number of boxes is emptied, can see progress being made. In addition he can anticipate a fun activity by looking ahead at the boxes. Hopefully this will promote motivation. It helps the mom with organization--no more hunting for supplies at the last minute and losing the student's attention. It also helps to add more "fun" educational activities into the day. If you're like me you have lots of cool stuff packed away in the closet or a tote that you mean to pull out or forgot you had! The workbox system helps you get those items out and into the boxes. Learning centers, file folder games, unit studies can all work well with this system. The book includes lots of ideas for the workboxes.

With A17's special needs, we needed to change the system a bit. We are starting with 6 boxes for now. Since he can't physically get to the box, I will bring it to him. My goal in implementing this system is to become better organized for our school work and to think very carefully about which activities A17 can do on his own or with very little help. We have used a visual schedule in the past. This is just taking that a step further. In box 1 is Touchmath, box 2 is magnetic counters and pattern cards, box 3 are books to read for our oceans unit study, box 4 has lapbook materials, box 5 has a craft, and box 6 has a chalkboard book plus chalk.

If you would like to see how some other moms have implemented this system, check out these blogs.
Our Lifesong
Joyful Mother of 6 Children
Walking By the Way
Teaching 2 in TX

Monday, March 16, 2009

Snow lapbook

Even though spring is around the corner I wanted to post A17's snow lapbook that he completed in January. We were able to do several experiments with snow such as measuring how fast it takes to melt in different containers and measuring snow depth and temperature. We also talked about what to wear in winter.

This is graphic organizer for other words associated with snow. He really liked doing this and I want to find more ways to add in graphic organizers.

Our words that start with S mini book.

Snow crafts: A cotton ball snowman whose eyes fell off! A foam door hanger. A snowflake made from pipecleaners . We wrapped them around a pencil to curl then tied a bunch together with string.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Mitten lapbook and animals that hibernate

In December we did a lapbook on the book The Mitten by Jan Brett. As a go along to this, we studied about what animals do in winter such as hibernate. Some of the lapbook components came from Homeschool Share. I found some extra information on the animals in the story at Enchanted Learning ( see link in sidebar). I used a type it in template from Hands of a Child to make my own minit book on what animals do in winter. As a go along to The Mitten, we read Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. We rounded out our study with nonfiction books on hibernation and animals in winter. For the front cover of the lapbook I cut a mitten that A17 colored in half. Individual pieces were put in small baggies so they wouldn't fall out of the pockets but could still be used again. The green minit book of the left side of the lapbook contains four flaps--animals that hibernate, animals that fly to warmer places, animals that gather and store food, animals that must find food all winter.

Friday, March 13, 2009


We started a new math curriculum this year called Touchmath. It is a multisenory math program that I hope will help A17. He can identify numbers but is still working on number concepts ie 2 means these two items. It uses a tapping or touching method to help kids learn their numbers. You then move on to addition, substraction, multiplications and division. We will only be focused on counting and maybe basic single digit addition--depending on how this goes. I made up a binder with practice sheets in page protectors to make then last longer.
We use dry erase markers to tap and color the dots. So far A17 is really liking the tapping and the markers! LOL Erasing is fun too! We are doing tapping verus touching since it's easier for A17's fine motor.

We are starting with the basic number sheet and an open dot for tapping/coloring.
Then you progress to another item represetning the dots, and finally no dots. You tap in a particular order for each number.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Starfish art project

As part of our big unit on oceans, A17 read about starfish or sea stars today. We found a neat craft project to go along with our study. We traced starfish shapes onto sandpaper, cut them out and painted them. We painted them the same colors as the ones we read about in Rookie Read-About Science : Stars of the Sea by Alan Fowler. The pictures don't do them justice since you can't see the great texture! I think this would work great for sand dollars or coral too. I found this project idea in the back of Let's Read and Find Out Science 1: Starfish.