Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learning Our Address and Phone Number

A few years ago I set Gess to memorizing her address and phone number. I started by teaching her what city she lived in. I found a state map of Kansas and had her locate our city on the map. Eventually she could point to that general vicinity, even when the city was not marked on the map. After she learned the name and location of her city, I had her start memorizing her address.

The reason I wanted her to understand her city first is that we travel out of the city quite often (mostly for doctor's appointments). While she is improving now that she is older, when she was younger she was quite the wanderer. If she got lost and someone asked her what her address was, I wanted her to be able to clearly tell them where she was from. Whether or not they could understand what she said was another issue but practicing this quite often really helped her articulation to improve.

After she knew what her city was called and where she lived I had her memorize these two sentences (one at a time, but eventually spoken together). I always have her memorize by reading the words. She really does well with visual helps rather than simply repeating words I say. She actually did not know most of these words until we did this, so it helped enhance her sight words as well.




Then I would ask her, "where do you live" And she would repeat the entire thing. If I asked her, "what is your address" she would respond by saying just the second sentence. I believe this was enough to help if she were to find herself lost and a police officer asked her where she lived.

The only problem is, those are the only ways she knows to answer those questions. When asked what street she lived on the other day by her gymnastics coach, she answered "gymnastics." He told her that was a great street to live on! However, it was inaccurate. So I figured it was time to teach her some various ways to respond to these questions. So what I have done is made this chart with her address listed on it. (Of course I am not posting our actual address for you all to see, just using a generic example)



Now she is visually seeing which category each part of her address goes in as she says it. Then I will ask her, "what is your house number", "what is your street name", "what is your city", etc. This way she is realizing that each part of her address has a particular reason for being there and she will know what that is. Once she gets this down, we will take her address out of the equation and make her place each one in the appropriate spot using cards like this.



After that we will place each category in random order such as State, House Number, City, and Street and see if she still places them correctly. I might also make a house, and draw a street to put it on. I will place that inside a drawing of our city which we will then place on a map of our state. I am not sure exactly how that will pan out but you get the idea.

Our goal is to have her be able to answer each part without any visual cues. I think this will be a fun and more visual way to learn not only how to say her address but understand what it all means. I am hopeful that whenever she is asked about her address in the future she will understand how to communicate the information correctly, no matter how she is asked. (Then we will have to teach her to not share that information with just any stranger! Boy, the lessons just never end!)

We memorized her phone number in the same manner. I had her memorize the sentence "My phone number is 123-4567." Then when I asked, what is your phone number, she would repeat the sentence, not just the numbers. This was tougher because keeping the numbers in order is tricky! I also cheated and had her say the last part in 2 double digit numbers. Let's say it was 1345 she would say "thirteen forty-five." I know I will have to undo this as she learns to actually dial our number but I have three digits that repeat themselves in a row and it was just too confusing for her! We are starting to work on dialing it now but it is going slowly. We found a cute Fisher Price Phone that helps you do it though, so hopefully this will make it more fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Teaching Privacy

My daughter will be turning 8 in October and I know that in reality it will not be too many more years before she will head into the wonderful world of puberty. As horrifying as those years are for parents, there is an entirely different element of fear and horror when children with special needs are involved. While I still have time to handle the more delicate issues, I do realize there are some steps we must begin now, specifically in regards to privacy.

A toddler running around in diapers is just fine, but at what age does it stop being acceptable for a child to be running around in a T-shirt and panties? Yes, my daughter hates wearing pants and/or shorts, almost as much as she hates shoes. When my daughter enters the house the first thing to go are her shoes, the second thing is her pants! We have several play dresses for just this purpose, but they are not always practical. Still, it is a bit embarrassing when you come home with company and she begins undressing in the living room. So we have decided it is time to start explaining that dressing is something you must do in "private."

I borrowed the book Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about their Bodies, Boundries and Sexuality from our Down Syndrome support group. However, after I read the introduction and found out that it was written by a person who worked for Planned Parenthood I was immediately turned off. In glimpsing through it I found some basic common sense advice and maybe some helpful tips for teaching girls about menstruation but I really do not plan on using the book or their approach with my daughter.

So instead we just started implementing some basic steps such as teaching her the proper names for her private areas and stressing that they need to be covered up in front of people. Instead of getting dressed where ever she wants after her bath, we now have her go to her room and shut the door. We are enforcing knocking on the door when she enters a room and are doing the same, even when we are opening the door to check on her. We always knock first.

Since we just started these new concepts over the summer I was very pleased to find out that the Health curriculum I got this year actually covers the topic of privacy. I bought the 2nd grade Health book Proper Manners and Health Habits by Rod and Staff Publishers.


This is a Christian curriculum with a Mennonite or Amish sort of spin to it, so there are some areas that work well and others that do not. I just modify it to meet our needs and so far we are really liking it. I was glad we had started implementing things like knocking and introducing the concept of "privacy" before we started this. By the time we got to the lesson on privacy it was really just enhancing what we are already doing. They have a couple of cute poems that we found fun and helpful for the topic.

When bathroom doors are closed up tight,
I must not enter there;
Someone, I know, might be inside,
So I must knock with care.

If a bedroom door is shut,
And I must go to rest,
I'll stop and think of who's in there,
And ask if they are dressed.

We added some hand motions to it and Gess really seemed to enjoy it. The curriculum also covers respecting the property of others, table manners, keeping yourself clean, care of teeth and many other important health issues for kids. They have stories with pictures to color and questions to answer. We always find a way of adapting those. For instance, it will have lots of blanks and you have to find the word to fill in it from the very lengthy story. Instead, I will put a few possible responses on the chalkboard and have Gess choose the correct answer. This allows her to stand up by the chalk board rather than just sit in her desk. I will also write key words on the chalkboard as we read the story together to help emphasize them. Every time that word comes up I have her say it as I point to it. There are lots of ways you can take a worksheet and make it more interactive to help enforce the point.

So here is Gess doing her lesson on privacy in her Health workbook Proper Manners and Health Habits by Rod and Staff Publishers. Oh and I did I mention it only cost $6.05 for both the teacher manual and the workbook? You can not really go wrong at that price!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Steve Spangler Science

Within one of my homeschooling communities I found a really neat Science resource called Steve Spangler Science. Many of you may already be familiar with him as he has a weekly television segment in which he demonstrates some science experiments that kids can do at school and home. He has appeared on many news and talk shows and he just has a great way of making science fun and exciting for kids. Since "experiments" and hands on science is not really my thing I have found him quite informative as well as entertaining. I subscribe to his Experiment of the Week so I get each segment sent directly to my email. While Gess and I have watched several of his videos together we have not actually done many of them of ourselves. My husband has agreed to take that part over and soon we may have our own potato gun, or at least our own launcher!

Anyway, this week's video was particularly entertaining. Some of you may be aware of one of the big internet Youtube sensation the Evolution of Dance. If not, view it, it is pretty good! I had just recently been shown this video when yesterday in my Experiment of the Week I see that the video is titled "Evolution of Dance Guy Vanishes in Explosion." This just had to be fun! Indeed it was and Gess watched this over and over again. I can tell this will be a hit for a long time to come! Anyway, I just wanted to share, not only a fun video, but what I have found to be a great science resource: Steve Spangler Science.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer Reading Program Completed!

Last Saturday Gess attended the party for completing the summer reading program at our local library. She read her 20 books and for that got several prizes like free candy, drinks and various other items from area merchants along with a T-shirt donated from Emprise Bank. On top of that, each child got to pick out one additional prize. Gess got a blow up swimming pool that she got to use once before the weather cooled down to fall like temperatures! Here is a copy of her certificate and a photo of her in her T-shirt. She read every book all by herself, she is such an awesome reader!



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