Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shopping 101

I keep a grocery list on my fridge and write down things as I run out of them so I don't forget to buy them at the store. I never realized that my daughter picked up on what we were doing until one day I found this on my list.

There are other times I have found pancaks, straws and other various things my daughter uses. If we run out of, or low on, something, she lets me know by leaving it on the list. Well, this was my realization that Gess was ready for some more responsibility, so we have been working on letting her do her own shopping at the store.
By doing her own shopping I do not mean that we let her spend her own money, I have already been letting her do that. What we have started to do now is to break up part of the shopping list (unless I am only going to pick up a few things then she gets the whole thing) and give it to her to be in charge of. For instance today I made the following list:

Then as we shopped for them Gess would put them in the cart and then mark them off the list. If it's a short list like the one above, I also let her try to find the item by herself. I just follow her around the store while she shops. This was much easier before our grocery store recently did a re-model, but this is a good way to help her re-learn where everything is.
Shopping is a great lesson in reading for kids with special needs. When we do this we are not simply reading some random word on a list, but instead this makes the words relevant since they end up matching a tangible object that the child is very familiar with. Often times Gess already knows which brand/item we use but at other times I make it more fun for her by letting her choose what we buy. For instance, I put Cereal instead of Cheerios so Gess gets to choose which type of cereal we will get.
There will be times when Gess will actually write the shopping list herself. This will allow her to work on her writing and spelling skills. As you can see, she did not spell juice or pancakes correctly but this will be a great way to practice it. When Gess writes the list on her own I also want to help her understand the relevance, so during school I might say, "we need to buy the stuff to make cookies." We will then find a recipe and see what ingredients we need to buy. Then she can make her list and go shopping to buy those items. Of course we will also get to bake the cookies when we are done! There are tons of ways to make this fun as well as educational!
I also will eventually use this for lessons in math too. However I want her to first be very familiar with shopping on her own before trying to work on how much we are spending and how much it costs, etc. Her reading skills are definitely way beyond her math skills as it is. For now Gess is enjoying her time shopping, but then of course what girl doesn't?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reading the Constitution

On January 6, 2011 Congress read the Constitution of the United States aloud on the House floor. This is actually the first time this has ever been done in history! While that amazes me, I certainly wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to teach Gess about both Congress and the Constitution.
CSPAN of course is the television network that carries the House proceedings live. CSPAN2 carries the Senate. For those who are like us and do not have cable or Satellite Television, you can find CSPAN streaming live on the internet on their Live Video Feed page. This is where we tuned in to watch the House read the Constitution on the House floor.
Before it came on we discussed the three branches of government and I tried to explain to her what the House of Representatives was. We then talked about the Constitution and how it is the document that governs our country and ensures our freedoms. I had Gess read the preamble on her own before they began, and then we followed along as each person read the text.
Gess did tire after a few pages. When I kept turning pages she declared "I'm done, close the book!" Still, she got a good introduction into the Constitution and learned things like the fact taht we have a post office because of this document.
In time Gess will learn more, but I am glad that our Congress has decided to start their year reviewing the document that gives them the power to do the job they are there to do. I hope this becomes an annual tradition. If so, we will tune in each and every year and plan our lessons around it. It will be something we read each year anyway, but there is just something neat about doing it together as a nation!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Daily Bible Reading

I am so proud of Gess. She read through the entire New Testament last year! I posted about us attempting this in my New Year Project blog last year. Well, I wanted to tell you that we did it! I also thought I would share how we accomplished our goal.

At you can sign up for several different Bible reading plans and they email you the passage you are to read for that day. In order to read the New Testament in a year you only have to read one chapter a day, and only on weekdays. So Gess and I would start our school morning off reading a Bible passage.

We also used the Readability tool that I mentioned before. I noticed that Gess would not read books where the print was small and I have had a hard time finding a bible in which she can both see the text and not get lost. For now, Readability on the computer has been the best way for her to read it. Readability is nice because it not only increases the font size, but also takes away all the other distractions on the web. Side bars, advertisements, other menus, etc. are all removed. All that you get is the actual main text of the page you are wanting to read. You can learn more about it and get it yourself here:

Gess and I would read one chapter a day. If for some reason we missed one due to sickness or something else we would catch up by reading two a day or read on the weekend instead. We would each take turns reading. I would read a verse or paragraph, then she would read the next one. On really long paragraphs I would sometimes highlight the text over just the part I wanted her to read. So while she read along with me, she was not required to read the entire chapter herself out loud. While she is a great reader, I was afraid it was a bit much to ask of her, especially since she had so many hard words to learn.

We read the NIV version of the bible and I am impressed with how well Gess did with many of the big words. She can read redemption, tabernacle and other various hard words. I did find it amusing when she read about the Chef Priests and things like that, but I always pointed out her mistakes and encouraged her to look closely at the words. One letter can make a world of difference! It also has been a good time to work on pronunciation and intelligibility. We work on "th," "l," "ch" sounds etc., as we read.

This was a great way to start the day. Just reading. It was great practice and her skills improved tremendously over the year. It also sparked many conversations about God, the bible, salvation and other important topics. We would end our reading with some time in prayer as well.

We are going to be doing this again this year. I will probably have her read more of it herself, and help her less and less. Maybe by the end of the year I will have her read each chapter by herself. I will still be there to listen. This is so I can make sure she not only reads it correctly, but understands what she reads.

My favorite part was reading the book of Revelation with Gesserine. When she found out some of the passages were angels or others singing in heaven, she made sure to sing those passages. So for the rest of the book if there was anything quoted by someone from heaven, she would sing it. There is nothing more precious then hearing my special girl sing the praises we will one day hear being sung in heaven. It was a great way to start the morning!


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