Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are certainly ready. Here are some activities we did this week to help teach Gess what Thanksgiving is all about.


We checked out two books from the library, the same two as last year as I thought they were both very good. The first book, "The First Thanksgiving" by Jean C. George which was about just that, the first Thanksgiving. It was very detailed and beautifully illustrated. It is long so it took us a few days to finish it.

The second book was shorter and Gess was able to help us read it. It was called "Thanksgiving Day" by Gail Gibbons and is also about the first Thanksgiving but then it shares how people actually celebrate the holiday today. I liked that because it helped my daughter to identify the story of Thanksgiving with the events and activities that she partakes in on that day.


Since Gess is a very visual and hands on learner, sometimes just reading and looking at pictures are not enough for her to grasp the concept, so we watched some Thanksgiving videos as well. The History Channel has some videos and other information about Thanksgiving, but I didn't see the video that we had especially liked in the past. However, it has a good one that explains how we came to celebrating this holiday every year on the last Thursday of the month. You can find their resources here: The History of Thanksgiving

The other video we watched was from BrainPOP. It is an awesome educational site, but it does cost money. However, they usually feature many of their items for free and each holiday you can usually see their video related to it without having to pay. We watched the one on Columbus Day last month and this month we watched the video about Thanksgiving. When the video is over you can take a quiz which can be graded or is just for fun. Gess and I watched the video and took the quiz together to see how much of it she retained.


We have a few sites that we use for crafts. This year we used Enchanted Learning. It is another site that is only partially free but so far I haven't found anything that I needed that had to be purchased. The fee, though, is only like $20 for the whole year, so the price is very reasonable. It may be something I use when Gess gets older and has more worksheets. Anyway, they have great craft ideas and this year we made a "Thankful Turkey." To download the template does cost, but I just figured that part out. We focused on Psalm 118:1 "Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good" and placed that verse on the turkey. In each feather Gess listed something she was thankful for. Her first one was "games." Well, she is a kid! The other feathers were prayer, God, mom and dad. Here is our finished project.

There are several other good sites with craft ideas. Someone recently shared a great blog about crafts with me called Art Projects for Kids. Its the blog of an elementary school art teacher who shares her activities. It is also a great resource!

Well, that is how we studied this holiday. Let us not forget that this day is a time to give thanks. There is so much to be thankful for and as I close I will share just a few of the things that I am especially grateful for this year.

I am thankful for:

My salvation. Even though I am a sinner Christ still chose to die for me and give me eternal life. Nothing is more precious to me.

Our freedom. What a joy to live in a nation where I am free to live and believe as I choose. Freedom is something we take too much for granted. I pray that people realize that freedom is more valuable than any commodity the government can provide for us.

My husband. I am thankful for a man who loves me and is always there for us each and every day. My life would be much emptier without his love and support.

My boys. My boys who are grown are taking on more responsibility each day and it blesses my heart to be a part of their lives. I am especially grateful that they still love talking to and spending time with mom!

My daughter. Her very existence is a blessing to me, but having her healthy and so eager and able to learn continues to amaze me. I am thankful that she is doing so well.

My mother. Having lost my father last holiday season I am grateful that my mother now lives close and is able to share those days with us.

My siblings. We have not always been close but over the last few years we have been reconnecting. I pray that we will continue to do so.

My new house. I am thankful to live in a larger house. I feel so blessed to have been able to move into it and truly love it!

Our riches. According the world, I would not be considered rich by any means but in reality every American actually is. Yesterday we were at McDonald's, a food we often get tired of. I thought, how blessed we are that we have so much to eat that we have the luxury of being tired of food!! How blessed that we have cable TV, two cars and two computers. So many people consider these things as necessities, but they certainly are not! I am grateful that we are able to have so much when others around the world have so little.

Friday, November 14, 2008

No More Whining!

My daughter is not really much of a whiner, but she does have a way of not always asking for things politely. Instead of whining about being thirsty she would ask for a drink in a demanding sort of way. A very irritating and loud demanding sort of way. Well, at last year's homeschool convention I listened to a speaker and found that she had an awesome technique to stop whining and other behaviors that showed a lack of self-control. Ginger Plowman, a Christian author, speaker and founder of "Preparing the Way Ministries" had some great advice. It was not anything new or innovative, in fact, it was pretty simple yet it is the key to getting to the heart of the matter, which is the heart. As she says, most parents work on trying to change the way their children "act." We figure if they learn to "act" right then they are being raised right, but that is not true. What we have to do is change the way they think. We have to reach past he outward behavior and reach the heart. Instead of just telling a child what they are doing is wrong we need to also teach them what the correct behavior and response should be. So instead of "don't yell at your sister", we should teach them why. We should show our sister love, and yelling does not show love. So we would ask, "is that showing love to your sister? How could you handle this situation while showing love?" She gives Biblical examples for each behavior and suggests appropriate responses to give the child. She even has a chart that has a lot of examples for a variety of behaviors. It is an awesome resource to get started with.

Wise Words for Moms

So, back to the whining issue. Ginger has a kit called "No More Whining" and in it are two books and a "no whining" watch. The "No More Whining" book is the parent guide for the kit explaining how to handle the situation and use the other tools involved. The second book is called "Whining Will" and is about a little boy who comes whining to his mother because he is thirsty. In the story the mother tells him she is not going to give him anything when he is whining. She explains that the Bible says we should use self-control, not whine. So she gives him the "no whining" watch and he goes away and waits for the watch to beep three minutes later. When it does he comes back to his mother and asks her for a drink using his manners and self-control. Its that easy!

In the kit you also get a watch. After reading this story "Whining Will" to your child you implement the same technique when your child displays their undesired behavior. It really does work and rather quickly I might add. I remember in the seminar Ginger Plowman said it usually only takes about a week for the behavior to change and that was pretty much our experience as well. Of course it only takes a week for the behavior to initially change but there are times when it will start to creep back in again. At that point you just use the watch again. We have actually not had to use the watch in quite some time, not even with the move! A gentle reminder seems to do the the trick anymore, but its nice to know its there if we need it.

Gess never had a problem taking the watch, but she hated to put it on. She hates anything on her wrist or in her hair for very long. So for kids with sensory issues like that you can still implement the procedure, just take them to their room and put the watch on their dresser while they wait on their bed for it to beep. Gess would always bring me the watch when it was beeping. If they play with it too much they can stop the timer, but having to keep starting over again is usually enough incentive to learn to leave it alone. For a special needs child I think it is a great tool to help them visually see what is going on in any "time out" situation. In fact, they are not really in time out, rather they are waiting to try again, but they now have a tool that gives them assurance that they will get that second chance. It also offers the consistency needed to make any discipline program successful.

When the watch beeps the children are gently cued that their time is up and they may now ask for the drink (or whatever they were wanting) again using their manners. Of course, there were times when her watch beeped and I had to remind my daughter what it was she wanted to begin with! She would forget that she had just "demanded" a drink or something. Regardless, she still managed to learn to use her manners and self-control in those situations. No, she doesn't always do so 100% of the time, but she now understands that manners and self-control are the desired behavior in those circumstances and most importantly she understands why. Using our manners and self-control are the way in which we demonstrate to others that we love them!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just an update

So where have we been the last three weeks and what have we been doing? Well, we have moved into a larger house and I finally have more room for all of our school, therapy and art supplies (not to mention basic household items)! It has taken all of my extra time to pack, unpack and get this house shaped into a home but it is amost there! I love it already and can't wait to host my first homeschool group meeting here! Now I know many of you have entire rooms for your school and this would seem like little to be excited about, but just imagine how small the room we left was! We used to have to pull everything out and put it back each and every day. Of course I am not done. There are still flags to mount and calendars to post on the wall, etc, but its a start!

I also had issues with my computer. First it just quit working, so we took apart our media center computer and installed my drives and video card in it. My video card was not pleased and demonstrated by torching itself. (I am serious, it literally caught on fire. There WERE flames involved!) So, we put the media center card back in and tried that. However, my software demanded too much from that tiny case and it kept overheating and shutting down. Finally my husband intalled all of that back into my old case and I am up and running again. I have had access on other machines, but it just isn't the same as working on my own machine. Now we just need to finish building my husband's new machine so we can have a media center again. One thing at a time!

Gess has also had her 7th birthday! We had a small celebration with just her grandparents and a close friend attending (her brothers were working). She still had a lot of fun. The biggest surprise was the swing-set. We needed a larger yard for her to have one and now we finally do. She loves it already. I do realize it is getting cold, but we are not opposed to zipping up some coats and getting out doors regardless!

We have been managing to get in school through all of this. I really love her classroom area and having all of her school stuff handy right there. It makes life so much easier. She has adjusted to the move well, but she did have some things to get used to. She will still ask to "go to another house now" (meaning "the other" house of course) but is asking less than at first. Our first night here she stood by the door and said "we go home now". It was so sad and cute at the same time. I think she does like her room and the house though and I know she loves the yard a whole lot more. I am very happy and thankful for it all. It has been a blessing but has kept me busy. I hope next week to start sharing some more resources with you all again.


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