Swine Flu Info.

If, like me, you are freaked out over the high pitched ferver of Swine Flu reaching global pandemic level, I highly suggest you tune out major news and tune in to Twitter at around 12:30 am. It’s much less scary that way:

Swine Flu.

Off to tidy up my food storage area and buy more M&M’s from Costco, in case we need to hunker down anytime soon…

***
The kids are following the outbreak in a few different ways. Golfer keeps tabs on it by checking out the Google ‘Swine Flu’ map. Naturalist is documenting the number of cases in the US each day and then graphing them to see how fast the rate of change is. This is proof of what I’ve long thought: you can make anything nerdy, even Swine Flu.

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2e Tuesday: The Font's The Thing!

I had no idea, until I read the Wall Street Journal article (here) that the font Comic Sans was so divisive! That it inspired so much passion (either good or bad) from people! That there is a flickr group dedicated to hating it! That, in fact, there is another group, Ban Comic Sans
whose sole purpose is to, well, ban Comic Sans from the general population.

Over my dead body!

(wow, I guess fonts really DO produce strong emotions!)

My daughter was a reluctant reader. Dyslexia had a lot to do with that, but looking back, I think the types of fonts used in schools and books also had a lot to do with it, too. Hand in hand with dyslexia is a very visual learning style, and when Naturalist was taught to print her letters in basic ‘teacher writing’ she visualized her letters that way:

school font

That is a very different look than the serif fonts that she then came across on her worksheets and in the early readers. Fonts like this, with the funky a and serifs flinging off everywhere:

bad dyslexic fonts

I remember specifically at a teacher conference in 1st grade, the teacher and I sat scratching our heads because Naturalist had written her name on a worksheet that she was supposed to circle all the letters that she recognized. She circled maybe 3 letters–none of which were the letters in her name. You know, the name she’d just written down. Her teacher loved her, I loved her teacher, and we sat and had a good chuckle about how flighty Naturalist was.

Now, I think I know what it was all about. She knew her letters sans serif, like this:

dyslexic friendly fonts

but guess what font the worksheet was in? Times New Roman. Naturalist had memorized the shapes of the letters, and when you added a little serif ‘flare’ on the top or bottom, then she didn’t register it. Additionally, once she’d memorized the shape of it, then you could flip it and turn it upside down and it would remain that letter. Thus, the issue with b,d, and p and a whole host of other letters (u and n, h and y, to name a few).

If you have a reluctant reader, with or without dyslexia, the size and shape of the font can make a huge difference in the ease of reading, which then creates a non-reluctant reader. Naturalist and I played around with size and type of font in Word one day, and came up with her top list of fonts (which I name in the picture above). At first, she preferred the size of them to be in the 70′s, and then the 30′s, and now she’s comfortable with them at 24.

Likewise, once I showed her how to make the font size larger on the computer, she was able to read things off the internet so much easier.

When we look at books to read, she checks out the font first. Some she just can’t read without a significant amount of eye strain and fatigue, so she usually sticks to hardbacks (larger font, in most cases) with less serif type fonts.

If you have a reluctant reader, I highly recommend starting at investigating size and shape of fonts. Find one they like reading off of Word, and then copy/paste things of interest off the internet, change it into that font, and then make it larger. Print that out and see if it makes a difference. For us, it made a HUGE impact. Naturalist still struggles with different aspects of dyslexia, but the right font cuts out at least half the frustration she used to have.

It’s for those reasons that I say to the Ban Comic Sans people…if you want to take Comic Sans down, you’ll have to go through me first.

Resource:
A great article about font selection for very right brain, visual, or dyslexic readers, including links to suggested fonts.

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Math Monday::Outdoor Math!

I have a long history with Outdoor Math. My mom used to take me to the beach when I was trying to learn my multiplication tables, and while there she would draw multiplication problems in the sand with a stick. I also had a stick, and my job was to answer them before the next wave came in and washed the problems away. I hated math, but loved this game!

Now that the weather is warming up, my kids beg to do math outside. Not that they’re begging to do math…they just want to go out in the warmth, and so I bring the math with us. I’ve started up a Creative Math Club, and this last week we had enough kids to make the biggest number line in history. Or, at least, in our neighborhood that day!

IMG_9010

To make your very own record breaking number line, hand everyone foot long rulers and a wet piece of chalk. Wet because it makes a darker, more durable mark on the writing surface. Then, find a long sidewalk and have them mark a line with their ruler as a guide. Then, mark both ends with a hash mark and start again on either side. Once you have a line as long as you want it, the fun can begin! Actually, the fun has already begun, but don’t tell the kids that.

It’s up to you what kind of number line you want. For our purposes, we had both positive and negative numbers on our line. Many of the kids hadn’t seen negative numbers before, but they quickly picked up on the fact that they were the same numbers they knew, but with a – in front of them.

I had everyone guess where the center of our line was, and run to that mark (the numbers hadn’t been written in yet). Once everyone was on their mark, I took the middle of that and it became the ‘O’:

IMG_9023

Then everyone picked a side and started filling in numbers. Their guess was pretty darn accurate…the positive side had 26 numbers:

IMG_9024

and the negative side had 25:

IMG_9025

The variations of what you can actually do with the number line are practically endless, which is pretty fun in and of itself. This day, though, we gave the kids a dice and let them roll for a number. If the number was even, they moved that number toward the positive side. If the number was odd, they moved that number toward the negative side. The goal was to get off the number line in either direction!

IMG_8998

Sassy exclaimed this was the ‘best number line EVER!’ which is quite enthusiastic considering she’s never seen one before. Even though participation is optional in the Club, everyone tried out the number line…even the boys that were more interested in playing on the Wii or basketball (*cough* Golfer *cough*). A big number line like this, where you have to actually walk to get to different numbers is fantastic for kinesthetic learners especially, but is actually great for anyone looking to have fun with grasping number concepts. I have to admit, even I got a kick out of running along the line from number to number.

Some variations for this game, just off the top of my head:

limit it to whole positive numbers, and then count on: by 2′s, 3′s, 4′s, etc. Leap from number to number.
Shout out number problems and have the kids run to stand on the answer.
Have each kid pick a number and then have them roll the dice to see what number to add/subtract from that number. Play until they reach the end.

Have plenty of lemonade on hand…doing math like this can really work up a sweat!

Outdoor math

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My “Go To”

IMG_8147

Kristin over at Maine Momma posted her favorite ‘go to’ recipe when the weather turns warm. Hers is a lovely marinade/dressing to put over greens that works equally well as a marinade on some pork. Looks delish!

I have a ‘go to’ recipe of my own–this one for a fruit dish that I make just about once a week from the time I open my windows to nice, crisp spring air, until I have to shut them again when Autumn blows through. It’s just. that. good. I originally got this from my sister-in-law, a former Miss Kentucky who manages to do everything effortlessly, all while looking like she’s ready for a close up.

I use this fruit trifle as a fruit salad to accompany the meal, however most people would consider it a dessert. I found this out when I had a friend over and told her to bring a dessert, and then she showed up with a similar fruit trifle while I had made this one for a ‘fruit salad’. I then had to clarify that something is only a desert if it has chocolate in it.

The recipe:

Half an angel food cake, torn into bite size pieces.
A packet of vanilla pudding (4 oz. size), mixed and chilled.
A tub of cool whip (any size works, just depends on how much you like cool whip!)

An assortment of seasonal, available, fresh fruits. My favorites are: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, bananas, and raspberries.

In a deep dish, layer ingredients. This can be a creative choice and differs for everyone, but I do it this way:

angel food cake, fruit, pudding, cool whip, then repeat once again, or as many times as you can fit in your container.

It’s rare that I have any left over, but if I do, it’s even better the next day. And for July 4th, it’s fun to make this with strawberries and blueberries to play up the ‘red, white, and blue’ theme.

I just happen to have some already made up today (I told you I make it every week!) and I’ll have it along with Kristin’s marinade on some salad.

I don’t know which I love more–warm weather or warm weather food!

Share

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Pass it on!

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”  J.M. Barrie

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” — J.M. Barrie

Happy Friday, everyone! Don’t forget to share the love!

Pass it on!

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Spring is back…laundry is on hold until inclement weather returns.

Tulip

I know there are all sorts of professionals out there who are certified to diagnose and treat ADD/ADHD in people. However, I have my own failproof test that is pretty much 100% accurate in picking out people with ADD, and it even can predict the severity of it.

It’s called ‘doing laundry’. If you can do laundry over and over and over again, without getting sidetracked between the spin cycle and the done buzzer or bored with the mindless repetition of washing something that you’ve washed every week for months…you don’t have ADD. If you can sort and match dozens of white socks of varying sizes without getting paralyzed with emotional and mental pain, you do not have ADD. If you can do more than one full load of laundry in a day (instead of getting sidetracked in the morning and forgetting all about it), if you can look at piles of dirty clothes and not get wracked down with despair at the thought of sorting through it piece by piece, if you can not only get the clothes clean and dry but also folded and in the right drawer…you do not have ADD. And, you are my hero.

For me, keeping up with my laundry is like one of Hercules tasks. I’m no better at it now than I was 16 years ago. Now that Naturalist and Golfer are old enough, I’ve delegated the laundry duties of their clothes to them. This would work perfectly if they weren’t also as distractible and inattentive to mundane details as I am. It’s like the blind leading the blind over here. Hubby is really, really great at it, but he has this pesky thing called a job to keep him occupied.

In any case, I have a hella lot of laundry to get finished, a sinkful of really nasty dishes to get clean (or, at least in the dishwasher), and childrens clothes to change from winter to spring. The kids and I put in a really good effort to do all that this morning, but by the time lunch came around we were ready to bail and go on a picnic. So we did. We enjoyed the sun filled tulips and the really warm day. We played with Frito in a field and layed on our backs in the grass to look up at the clouds. We told jokes and complained about the heat (well, some of us who are still 4 did, anyway). We divided 2 cupcakes evenly between the 4 of us that were there, and then cried about how small our piece was (well, those of us who are PMS’ing did, anyway). We rode our bikes there and then decided we were a queen and didn’t want to ride back to the house (the 4 year old, again). Today, we didn’t just live life. We enjoyed it!

Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind. I’ve got laundry to finish!

Although…it’s going to be in the 70′s again….

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2e Tuesday: "Give me a creative outlet or give me death!"

Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is. Mason Cooley

I’ve written lots about twice exceptional learners in the past few months, mostly detailing the “LD” part of their equation while ignoring the gifted and talented part. This is due to the fact that the tiny portion of their learning disabilities produce about 99% of their emotional turmoil and frustrations. This makes it easy to focus on it, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.

This time, though, I’ve been thinking of the amazingly positive exceptionalities that come along with being a very divergent learner. Namely: creativity. Loads of creativity. So much creativity, it’s hard to contain it all in one little brain. Naturalist exudes creative energy. She is constantly making, either on a grand scale with some elaborate scheme, or on a smaller scale by folding paper over and over while she sits at the kitchen table.

In school, the schedule and process was to harness all that energy and dam it up behind routine, worksheets, and sitting still. As the outlets for her creative mind dried up, so did her reason and knack for learning. Boredom set in with all the rote memorization, and that is the kiss of death to a divergent mind.

It becomes disheartening for these students with eager, bright minds to continuously experience failure in school while learning and creating successfully at home. They also tend to have more creative productive interests. They are able to conceptualize quickly, to reason abstractly, to generalize easily, and to enjoy the challenge of solving novel problems autonomously. Basic automatic skills such as perceptual scanning, sequencing, organization, and study skills are at the center of their difficulties. Hobbies and interests that require keen motivation and creative thinking abilities are often observed outside of the school environment, while their performance in school is poor.

At home, Naturalist is never very far away from a few things: a lump of clay, some pipe cleaners, wooden craft sticks, and/or duct tape. I’ve learned over time to give her something to knead in her hands if I’m telling her something I want her to remember or learn. The physical act of creating something (a rudimentary sculpture while she listens, or even just molding the clay in her fingers) is tied directly to the part of her brain that stimulates learning and paying attention. I don’t know why this is so–it just is. And I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I just give her clay and let it be.

I am amazed at the steady stream of ideas she is constantly thinking up. If I’m ever stuck and can’t figure something out, she’s the one that problem solves it. Hubby and I call her MacGuyver, because she can take 4 unrelated items and put them together to create something amazing. She rarely plays games using the rules, but makes her own up because it makes it more interesting. In fact, she usually just makes the games up to boot. She frequently makes DaVinci worthy creations out of Legos without breaking a sweat.

When she is in her creative mode, she shines. This is not atypical of 2e kids, and is something to celebrate and encourage as often as possible. The way Naturalist acts when she has no creative outlet and is ‘bored’ is akin to dying a thousand deaths over a thousand years. Life is torturous to her when her creativity and divergent thinking is dammed up or stopped in some way (*cough*standardized schooling*cough*).

The kid who is dull and lethargic in class can often completely stun with what they can do outside of school with some K*nex, legos, clay, etc. Look for it, and share the joy!

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Math Monday:: Right Brain Math and a Winner!

Which to talk about first?!?

I’m horrible at keeping exciting news to myself, so first I’ll announce the winner of my impromptu giveaway of a computer math game that takes fun and learning to a whole different level: Math Evolver – Virus Origin.

Sassy helped me out on this one, by choosing a number between 1 and 11, and she chose the number “2″. So, Theresa over at LaPaz Home Learning, come on down! I’ll email you to get our address and send it off in the mail! And everyone who didn’t win, thanks for your comments and keep reading. Because I noticed a big number of you struggle with math phobia and anxiety like I used to. This post is for you.

So, lets get down to math business. I know, you can probably hardly wait. Remember way back when I went on and on and on about number patterns and number circles?! Well, they’re baaaack! This time, not so much with vedic patterning, but with a creative little program called “Right Brain Math“.

Currently, math is taught as a ‘left brain’ subject, by very ‘left brain’ teachers where very ‘left brain’ kids succeed. But what about me! Me and my very right brain mind? Tom Biesanz, or, Mister Numbers on youtube, has thought of us right brainers, and come up with a solution. If you only do one thing today, watch this video. (Then, take a nap, eat some candy, lay around, and blame me when nothing else gets done and it’s time for bed.):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoac4xzIhSw&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

What’s that? You want more? You aren’t ready for your nap yet? OK! Here’s the patterns for the 2 and 8 times tables, done the right brain way:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWaVvL3ygpI&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

It’s a fun twist on a previously tedious and painful subject (at least, for Naturalist and me!). Golfer falls on Hubby’s side of the left brain fence, and has already memorized his multiplication tables through 12. The ones he hasn’t memorized, he can figure out in his head, and he just loves to multiply two digit numbers together in his head…making Naturalist and I extremely (angry)(jealous) proud of him.

It goes to show, different strokes for different folks. And, just because one kid learns one way in a family, it doesn’t mean the other kids will, too.

Now, go ahead and explore the magic of Right Brain Math, either on their website or through their videos on youtube.

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another math game blog: Educating Risa; Addition War and Make 10 Go Fish!

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Weather blows.

So, it’s been sleeting outside since about 6pm Thursday. In most parts of the front range, the sleet was snow, and instead of getting a backyard full of water they got about 3-4 feet of the white stuff. I was kinda wishing for the snow instead of the flood I’m looking at, because even though I hate snow in the winter, it’s quite a novelty in the spring! The fact that I know it will be gone in a few days helps me keep some perspective on the cold factor.

But this sleet/rain/snow mix is driving me stir crazy. Not even my impervious to cold or inclement weather kids want to spend a lot of time out there–it’s something like 35 degrees with driving wet stuff. They’ve gone out for short periods of time to race paper in the river running down our street, or to take Frito out to do her business, or to stomp around in the lake that’s developed in our backyard.

when it sleets 14 hours straight...

I discovered (while trying to be as lazy as possible and snap pictures of the activities without actually having to go outside) that the water running down the windows created a lovely impressionistic quality of my shots. That kept me busy for a little while, and I forgot all about how stir crazy I was. But then the kids came inside, and here I am, crazy again.

I could do some laundry/cleaning/cooking, but those things tend to add crazy on top of my other crazy, and that can’t be good!

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4 months of loving this puppy!

4 months of loving this puppy.

Frito Bandito!
you bite our toes often,
you make us laugh more.

In honor of the haiku…the only type of poetry/reading I have time for anymore. Short, sweet, and to the point. I’m loving the Haiku’s over at Haiku For People…how could I not with things like this:

Pressing Sushi;
After a while,
A lonely feeling
–Buson, Yosa (1716-84)

or…

I kill an ant
and realize my three children
have been watching.
–Kato, Shuson

or…

I want to sleep
Swat the flies
Softly, please.
–Shiki, Masaoka

I think, when I die, that I will leave a haiku on my gravestone. Maybe:

This woman!
only wanted a minutes rest
not one for eternity!

or how about:

Peace!
no more laundry,
or cleaning toilets now.

Yes, I think the last one has a certain ring to it. If you are inclined to leave a comment, tell me what haiku you would put on your headstone…

and I have no idea how I got from puppy love to haiku’s on a headstone, but there you go. My mind at work is a frightening thing!)

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Poor little bunnies.

A Sad Tale.

The life of a chocolate easter bunny is a short one in our house.

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2e Tuesday::Finding A Voice.

Finding her voice.

One of the most discouraging things I’ve been through as a parent is watching my child find her voice until about age 5, and then slowly lose it over the course of a few years. If anyone has ever witnessed the slow silencing and taming of a wild, irrepresible spirit then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Only, in the case of naturalist, she wasn’t tamed at all by her experiences in school…she just went underground in her mind. Her spark? Gone. Her passion? Gone. Her curiosity and humor? Gone, baby, gone. It’s not a pleasant thing to look into the eyes of an 8 year old and see resignation already there.

The interplay between being gifted and LD meant that her experience in a classroom was so very different from her peers. She felt this difference keenly–most out of the box thinkers are incredibly intuitive and self reflective. Even at 5, she knew something that didn’t dawn on me until 7 years later…she processed things fundamentally differently from everyone around her. Even though she had friends and loved her teachers, she still related to her school environment as an outsider looking in.

I recently attended a seminar on helping gifted kids find friends. Ha. Doesn’t that sound funny?! Most people assume, because of the gifted label, that kids like this are set in life. But the truth is, friendships are made between equals. Best friendships form because two people share common interests, goals, and experiences. And statistically speaking, in a classroom of 35 kids, there was maybe only 1 who had a shared interest with Naturalist. While other girls ran around playing cooties (it was 1st grade, after all!) Naturalist was out trying to protect the habitat of a bunch of red ants. While other girls were talking about boys (in 3rd grade…it starts so early!) Naturalist wanted to discuss frog culture and go down to clean up a creek. Naturalist would tell jokes that no one else laughed at. She struggled to do things that everyone else was doing easily. Out of 8 years on this earth, she spent almost half of them feeling like an outcast. A stranger in a strange land.

Not unlike how the Bee Girl felt in Blind Melon’s video for ‘No Rain’. (Remember that?! 1993 in the house!) The embed code isn’t linked up, so click through here to watch the poor Bee Girl dance her way across a city, trying to find someone to connect with. And then, to see what happens when she comes across a meadow full of Bee People!

Helping her find her voice again has been a large part of the last 4 years of homeschooling. I’ve been on the lookout for people, places, and things that will put her around other people ‘like her’. Dynamic, creative, nurturing, and involved. I realized the importance of the task one night when she had the chance to meet her hero, Jeff Corwin. He picked her to go onstage with him and help out with a giant frog. First, he played around with her and started asking questions he thought she wouldn’t know the answers to. Heck, I didn’t think she’d know the answers to them. But she did. She answered every one. Then he tried to stump her, and still she answered them right. Finally he gave up and complimented her on knowing so much. It was a moment of clarity for me. In school, her experience was the opposite…she never knew the answers, never felt what it was like to do well in class, and never was complimented for anything. But if it had been a naturalist school, then she’d have had a different experience. A joyful one!

So, she started volunteering at a vet’s office. She took enrichment classes at the Science Museum and at our local university. She spent a week camping at a Wolf Camp, where all the counselors and leaders were amazed at her depth of knowlege and composure in a harsh outdoor environment. Then I told them that she pretty much sleeps outside on our balcony every night, even through the winter. They thought that was the greatest thing they’d ever heard, and I knew she’d found “her people”.

The internet is also full of possible connections to help find others like her. I know the internet is a scary place, and we’ve gone over the rules 093458034958034598 times. She’s connected with friends in places like the Spore Community, the Dyscalculia Forum, and the Being Dyslexic Forum. These connections have given her confidence and a self esteem that I haven’t seen before. Slowly, she’s finding her own voice and starting to develop her strengths rather than dwell on her weaknesses. I’m happy to see that!

I think these connections are important for anyone, but for a 2e, out of the box learner, they are a literal lifesaver.

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Click through to link to past 2e Tuesdays.

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Math Mondays::Learn Math or Die Trying…plus a Giveaway!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSwfxccGAcY&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

This is the trailer for a new kind of computer game, based entirely on math. MATH! Geared primarily toward those ages 10 and up, there are a couple games that are set up like a first person video game…the first game is all pre-algebra concepts, while the second game is algebra based.

We have the one based on pre-algebra, Math Evolver – Virus Origin, and it has been rocking our world for the last few weeks. One day, when we first got it, Naturalist and Golfer played it for 3 hours straight, and when I told them it was time for lunch they were amazed because it felt like only ’15 minutes or so!’.

From the Dimension M website:

DimensionM™is an immersive video game world that engages students in the instruction and learning of mathematics. Pre-algebra and algebra objectives are covered through a series of missions that bring math into a world that today’s students understand. Students become so captivated in solving problems that they forget they’re learning but they don’t forget what they’ve learned.

Research with our programs demonstrates how well they align with the way today’s students learn and how naturally immersed students become in their learning. The result: increase in student motivation, increase in time on task, and the ability to apply their learning in real world situations that have meaning for your student.

It’s a challenging game, but set up in such a way that makes it very playable. At 9, Golfer is on the young end of the ability spectrum, so I sit with him and help explain the concepts so he learns how to finish the level. Naturalist, at 12, is perfect for it. Her dyscalculia means that I just give her a calculator to help compute, and then sit with her as she completes the levels in case she also needs some explaining. The game also has a ‘math concepts’ type dictionary that explains things, too…which is good as it’s been a while since I’ve had to worry about the Order of Operations or what the Additive Inverse of a number is.

I can see this game applying equally well to both an advanced math student in middle elementary range who wants more challenge, a Middle School range student learning the pre algebra basics, and to a high schooler in need of some remediation. It plays like a step above the popular Math Blaster
series of math computer games, and is much more sophisticated.

They have set up a fantastic website to explain the games, the skills they cover, and other FAQ. It’s worth a look!

And now for the giveaway portion of this post. I have the Math Evolver game that has levels 1-5 on it. It was only $19.00, and they play it every day! When I visited the website, I noticed they have more than 5 levels for the game…it actually goes up to 20. That is pricier, at $70, but I can justify that in the name of math education. :) I have the original Evolver game (1-5) that is obsolete now that I’ve downloaded the complete game, and I’d love to send it to someone who’d like a chance to check out the game in their house!

Simply leave a comment in the comment section, and I’ll pick a random winner. The game works on both Windows and Mac’s, and is geared for ages 10 and up. I really can’t say enough good about this game, and am excited to send the game off for someone else to try with their kids! It’s been a fun way to spend time with my older kids, problem solving and learning new math concepts. (That was probably one of the nerdier sentences I’ve ever written, but there you go. I love this game! I missed most of these concepts the first time around, and am enjoying the experience of relearning them and going, “OH, OK! So that’s why….”)

Leave a comment, and I’ll choose a winner to announce next Math Monday. Comments need to be made before midnight, April 19!

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Sassy's Long Term Goals.

So, lately Sassy has been particularly feisty, whiny, and demanding. We’ve all noticed it here at Child’s Play (it’s hard not to when she’s yelling at everyone, “You are ANNOYING ME!!!!!!!) and I’ve been hoping this is just another downswing on her developmental cycle, to be followed shortly by amazing leaps in her abilities.

Sassy

I’ve been waiting for a while. A LONG while.

I think she’s coming out of it, though. She’s shrieking her displeasure less and less, so that’s good. Also? She’s been making long term goals all of a sudden. Usually she’s all about the right here and RIGHT NOW!!!! But yesterday, as she was eating a lemon (don’t ask), she pulled out a seed and asked how long it takes a seed to grow into a lemon tree. I told her about 5 years (??? Is that right?). She said, “In 5 years, when this seed that I will plant is a lemon tree and has lots of lemons growing on it, let’s have a lemonade tea party with your pretty cups and my lemons!”

She’s also coming in to my room in the morning and instead of asking, “what are we going to do today?! Let’s eat now! Right now! What can we do for fun right now?! What are you doing RIGHT NOW?!” she’s thinking further down the road. “Mom! I’m ready to have some fun! Let’s have fun now AND next week?! What are we doing now? And what can we do next Tuesday? I think we should go to the zoo! Today! AND next tuesday!!!”

I have to say, I’m not finding this advanced skill any less tiring.

Her longest long term goal affects me personally, as it involves marrying Hubby. She’s been irked for a while now that I married him before she could. I’ve seen her looking at our wedding picture with total disdain that he would choose ME over a cool girl like HER. One of my pregnant friends asked Sassy what she should name her kids (if it’s a girl: Beautiful. If it’s a boy: Awesome.) She then asked Sassy what Sassy was going to name her babies. Sassy declared, “I don’t know! I don’t even know who I’m going to marry! My mom already married my dad!!!” A while later she came up to me with little 4 year old tears. She’d been thinking about it all day. “Mom, if I can’t marry Dad, I don’t know who I’m supposed to marry. What if I can’t find anyone?!” I caved. “Alright. If you can’t find anyone to marry, I guess you can marry Dad.” I regretted my moment of weakness immediately. “Good! And then, when you go away, it will be just me and Dad going on dates and stuff!” Me: “Uh, Sassy, what do you mean ‘when I go away’? I thought I could stay around and we could all live together? I mean, where am I going to go? What am I going to do?” She thought for a second. “Well, mom, you’re just going to go on and live your life, I guess.”

So, that’s her long term goals so far. Go to the zoo, have fun tea parties together, and then depose me in my golden years. I don’t think I was quite so forward thinking when I was 4.

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2e Tuesday::The Four Horsemen of the Learning Differences.

The Four Horsemen of the Learning Differences!

This post today is brought to you by Naturalist, who is starting to find her voice when it comes to having Learning Differences. She’s always been a very self aware girl, and at 12 is able to reflect even deeper on what it means to be ‘her’. Even though many things that she is starting to talk about happened when she was in school from K-3rd, this is the first time she’s expressed her feelings about them.

For a very long time, I felt like avoiding any labels for her was the best bet, so I didn’t address her frustrations and challenges as ‘disabilities’ or ‘differences’, I just talked about them like they were part of the wonderful reasons that made her, her. In a way, I celebrated the differences as things that made her “Unique!” and “Wonderful!”

I’ll tell you what, though. I don’t think this was the best thing to do in her case. This is a somewhat prickly and controversial subject, so I’m trying to choose my words carefully about it. But for her, it wasn’t being honest, and it wasn’t giving her the right tools and self talk to deal with the incredible challenges that come with being bright AND LD.

The truth about learning differences is that more often than not, they are brutal to a gifted mind that knows what it wants to do, what it should do, what it is trying desperately to do…and what it fails at doing. Not being able to spell, not being able to read, not being able to remember things that you KNEW only minutes before–there is no sugarcoating the high level of frustration that causes.

MY way of dealing with that in Naturalist was to give her pep talks, like, “you just think differently than other kids, but it’s good to be different and unique!” or “These are all things that make you who you are! I wouldn’t want you any other way!”. It was me, being Pollyanna. Being a cheerleader. Putting on my happy pants and rooting her on.

But sometimes, you’ve got to call a spade a spade. For me, that moment came after 2 1/2 years of hard core homeschooling…spelling every day, math every day, reading every day…and realizing that she couldn’t spell, read, or do math any better than she could 2 1/2 years before. She knew it, I was trying to run from it. I was hiding under my Polyanna blanket while she trudged along knowing something was stopping her from doing all this stuff but not knowing what it was. It was at that point that I started looking up and using ‘labels’ like dyslexia and dyscalculia. I thought it would make her upset and feel like something was ‘wrong’ with her. Turns out, she already felt that way. When I gave her a term for it, all of a sudden she had a reason for it. An answer. An explaination.

I bought her The Survival Guide for Kids With Ld: Learning Differences, which is a fantastic balance of being a cheerful book about Learning Differences while at the same time not sugarcoating the struggles or avoiding the issues. She devoured it in a week and from then on has found her ‘voice’ in the matter…something that had been missing until this point.

She has words to explain what isn’t working in her brain and strategies for how to deal with that frustration. She has determination to go ahead and do things, even if they’ll be 10 times harder for her than someone else. Most importantly, she understands that she’s not the only one dealing with it. It’s her goal to talk to other people ‘like her’, and help other kids who may not understand what is wrong.

She wrote a few sentences out about what it’s like to have Learning Differences, as well as came up with some graphics. I’ll share them here, even though it kind of makes me cringe inside. I happen to share many of Naturalist’s struggles, but her inability to punctuate or spell words is not one of them. I have an almost photographic memory for how words are spelled, even if I’ve never seen them. Every misspelled word is like a scream in my head, so when I read this I get kind of twitchy. But bless her heart, if I made her correct every mistake she makes, she would quickly stop writing altogether. I’d rather she express herself confidently and hire an editor than censor herself because she’s worried about mistakes. And that’s a life lesson I hope she’s got down cold.

Here is Naturalists explanation of being a 2e kid:

gifted

gifted means creativety, but schools dont let me create but thats how i lern, i lern thro doing, not siting and tests. then since we cant create we shut down cuz we dont know what there talking about and we get teazed for being “stuped”. we wont to get away from people cuz you trusted them, and then they tern around and sit and chant with the kids that chant “stuped stuped your so stuped” and you lern that if you open your mouth people are going to laph and if you trust you are going to get your heart torn out and if you live your going to sit with no friends and no familie cuz they think your a failyer.

symbolsLD

an a makes 2 sounds, rite? not to someone with simbols LD! like me, it was very hard to atach meaning to symbols! sometimes i can read something over and over agen but not get what it ses!

writingLD

writeing LD is when you spell the way things should be spelled, in school we would have spelling tests 10 words! the best i ever got… 3 words, 3 WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but normaly i got 0.

readingLD

LD means lerning disorder, but now lets think of it as lerning difrence! i have reading LD i read things beter up side down backwerds and colorful! but when im reading normal things disupear, i skip lines, the leters and words dance on the page!

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