Gratitude Gravel

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As cold weather is approaching and outdoor visits and activities are limited, I can see the change in attitude and mood in my family.  We thoroughly enjoyed our summer and took full advantage of being able to work from home and spend more time together this summer.  (So much time, that we took a break from the blog 🙂 ) But now there is this looming feeling as we wonder what toll these months will have on our mental health.

At this time, it is really important to take a minute to reflect on what is important and express GRATITUDE for what we have!

The ugly patch before…

We have this really ugly patch in our front yard where a jungle of weeds bursts out each summer and totally drives me nuts!  (Our neighbors too – they love pointing it out 😉  I only wish I had a picture to show the magic of these weeds in the summer)  I have been planning to fill the area with gravel to stunt the weeds’ growth, so decided this was the perfect time to enhance the space while considering GRATITUDE —

…getting a makeover

and so we created our GRATITUDE GRAVEL!

We dug out the area, transported gravel and filled the area — lots of heavy work!  And we did it on a day with some sad and intense emotion so after all that muscle work, our spirits were a bit higher 🙂

We painted stones throughout the week.  It was a nice way to recognize what is important instead of focusing on some of the things we are missing.  Our plan is to continue to add to the garden and also invite family and friends to expand with their own additions of gratitude!

We sprayed the rocks to seal and weatherproof them.  We used this acrylic spray —

This site contains affiliate links to products.  I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but I only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

 

Voila!  Here is our Gratitude Gravel!!  G was so excited to help put this together.  She has big plans to make a sign and invite others to join.  I am excited to see what this little project becomes!

Here are some of our masterpieces up close:

 

No More Seams!

As parents, we get the occasional 😉 complaint about socks and undies just not feeling right!  But when those complaints start coming daily it might be time to find a solution.

 

For most of us, once we get dressed, we no longer really notice the clothes on our bodies.  We habituate to the sensation!  But for an individual with sensory sensitivities, they may not be able to habituate as easily, so they end up noticing and feeling those seams all day long!  This can cause them to feel more easily frustrated, because they are already dealing with other frustrations, or lead them to be distracted because their focus continuously shifts to the irritating seam.  Even for those that may not be considered sensory sensitive, if they are all ready dealing with other annoyances, the seam can be the thing to send them over the edge!

 

There are some strategies to help to alleviate some sensory sensitivities by offsetting with deep touch pressure.

Some things to try –

1. Pillow Sandwich

2. Getting dressed after a shower and burrito (wrap up tightly in a towel)

3. Massaging lotion onto skin before getting dressed

 

The complaints over here became so frequent, that we began searching for “seamless” socks and undies.  Many of these can be pricey if they are sold specifically for kids with sensory sensitivities.  So we began trying out some products on amazon with great reviews and found some that we love!

 

Both G and C complain a lot about socks.  But realistically, most of the socks made for kids are character socks.  If you take a look inside, there are so many threads to create the design.  Of course, they are uncomfortable!  So we made the switch to these crew socks and now the kids are chucking their character socks in the trash and searching through the laundry for their “seamless” socks.  These socks are not totally seamless, but very smooth and satisfying for C and G.

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As far as undies, uncomfortable waistbands and elastic around the thigh are common irritants.  So little C totally loves these, very comfortable waistband and no tight elastic!  We bought one pack to try out and he just recently asked to throw away all his other undies and buy more of these!

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So now that we have our seams under control, mornings are a bit easier!  One step at a time, but comfort matters!  The more comfortable these kiddos are, the more able they can handle other little frustrations that occur throughout the day.

Categories: Soothe Tool

Slime Time!

G was recently inspired by a book she has been reading called “My Pet Slime” and has been begging to make her own pet slime for about a week.  Of course, each time the idea to make slime pops into her head, we are headed out in the car or getting ready for bed.  So finally, after may days of asking, we put it in our calendar to make sure it happened!  I totally love making slime, so thoroughly appreciate her passion.

She gathered up all of the materials to make a slime just like in the book.  C got involved too once all of the materials were out.  My favorite slime recipe calls for:

1/2 cup of Elmer’s glue

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1/4 cup Sta-Flo liquid starch

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And then the extras – food coloring, glitter, googly eyes, bits of foam, or anything else you are inspired to add to your slime!

This was a little too sticky and needed the starch tap!

G poured the glue into a bowl and added many drops of blue and red food coloring until she got the perfect purple!  C added blue food coloring and loads of glitter!  Once they were pleased with the color, they added small amounts of the liquid starch, stirred, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then continued until all of the starch was incorporated.  After the starch is mostly absorbed, it is time to pick it up and knead it!  The more you knead it, the less sticky it becomes. But, if after several minutes, it is still sticky, tap it in a bit more liquid starch.

 

Then its time to add items and play!  C added several beads and gems and G added 2 giant googly eyes to make her “pet slime”.  She is still working on a name for this little cutey.

 

 

We made these creations a few days ago, and if you put them in a cup and cover them, they keep!  This slime pet has been coming out every day for adventures!

Hope this slime recipe brings you as much joy as it does for C and G (and myself 🙂 )

 

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

Creating Our Own Activity Game Board

Jessica and I have always loved playing games.  Our passion for games has definitely rubbed off on the kids!  Recently, they came up with the idea of creating their own game board.  They used the panels of the gymnastics mats that we have in our playroom, but anything can be used for this idea.  You could use yoga mats, towels, or pillows.  If played outside, sections of yard could be marked off with towels, cones, hats… you can get creative here.  If using pavement, you could use sidewalk chalk.  Each panel was labeled a different task, with both kids creating separate boards.  We have a swing in our playroom, so for the kids turn, they closed their eyes and took a swing over the game board.  Wherever they landed, they had to complete that task.  For the adults, we closed our eyes and spun around on the board, walking to a random location.  If you have an outdoor swing, you could create a game board around it, otherwise spinning your body and walking to a spot works!

C used all 8 panels of the mats and made some really interesting spots.  I made signs for each spot and printed them out:

1 – Mario and Luigi chase you (remote control cars)

2 – We kick balls at you (soft ones, 1 minute)

3 – Safe zone

4 – Do hopscotch

5 – Safe zone
6 – Do 50 jumping jacks
7 – We throw balls at you (also soft, 30 seconds)
8 – Water drinking contest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G went at it with a different approach, acting as the teacher.  She used 5 panels, and when you land on a spot she would conduct a lesson:

1 – Show and tell

2 – Phys Ed (she wrote gym, but I let it slide!)

3 – Tech

4 – Art

5 – Music

We really enjoyed playing this with them.  They were really proud of creating their own game boards, having ownership over the rules.  There are so many different creative ideas you could use for your game boards.  And for those that hate spinning, like Jessica, you could use dice to advance around the board.  You could set the amount of turns for each player, and even award points for completing tasks, lots of options!

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Homemade Scoops

At my two schools, we have nice sets of scoops that we use to practice throwing and catching.  When I first started teaching, I was at a lot of schools that didn’t have any equipment.  There are plenty of activities that can be done without equipment, but when I wanted to get creative, I would make things at home.  I remember one of my first projects being a set of homemade scoops.  It takes a while to complete if you’re making them for an entire class, but if you’re making them for the family it will be a lot faster.  All you need is empty milk jugs and any kind of ball that can be tossed back and forth.  Once you clean out the milk jugs, you make a cut in the bottom and add some duct tape along the edges.  Once you have them made, you can practice your throwing and catching skills, seeing how many successful catches you can make in a row.  We mix in some defense over here, with Bruin and Berkeley attacking the ball!

Categories: Uncategorized

Drawing Wednesday with C

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G has been making weekly face-to-face calls on Tuesdays to show a card trick to family and friends, and C wanted to be part of the action!  We talked with C about what he thinks he is good at that he could share with others and Drawing Wednesday began!

C chooses a weekly topic and then calls family and friends on our face-to-face app.  They take some time drawing together and then share their artwork.

This has been a great activity to give C a voice.  He is a little more quiet than G and not as quick to engage in conversation.  Making the phone calls and providing a topic helps him to improve his communication skills, feel more connected with family and friends, and share something that makes him feel proud of himself!  He then gets positive feedback about his artwork from family and friends to add to his sense of pride.

Week 1 Topic – Draw your favorite dinosaur

Week 2 Topic – Draw your favorite food as a character

Everyone is looking forward to what topic he comes up with next and for another chance to feel connected!

Categories: Home from School

Adventuring!

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We have found that getting out to explore has really broken up our day and given us something to look forward to.  We head into the woods across the street from our house and are thrilled with the opportunity nature lends.

The kiddos immediately start climbing, working on proprioception, body awareness and strength!

Once at the top, they found some long fallen trees to walk along.  How great for balance and the vestibular system!?

They continue to increase their challenge while judging for safety and ability – working on safety and body awareness!

We then have to cross a stream, and their were multiple avenues to get to the other side.  They each made their choice, demonstrating self-efficacy, reflecting their confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.  When returning, they each took a more challenging path increasing self-esteem as they made it successfully!

  

As we navigated our hike, they were able to point out paths we had taken before and make suggestions for where we should venture this time.  We ended up finding a large pipe that they could crawl the whole way which captivating them for some time!

During each adventuring trip, G and C take turns being the “trailblazer” leading the way and warning the rest of the pack about obstacles along the path.  This allows them to feel empowered to lead and learn responsibility.

Please share what types of adventures you and your family have been on 🙂

Categories: Move Tool Soothe Tool

Our finished fort!

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We shared a bit about the fort that we started to built, and it has become quite the project so wanted to update!

After gathering the large sticks, we used bungees to secure them to one another and to the central tree for support.  

We wove some sticks to begin to form walls, but we are going to wait for the trees to bud so we can weave leaves for colorful walls!

We are quite pleased with how it came out and even had our old chair tops from when I refinished our kitchen stools so we can picnic inside!

And our course, with the New England weather, we have been able to enjoy the shelter of the fort during the April snowstorm!!

Happy Fort Building!!

 

Categories: Home from School

Cross The Ocean Challenge

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This is one of my favorite team building lessons that we have students participate in each year.  It is a very popular activity, and I love it because it allows us to work on so many important parts of practicing good teamwork!

I have kept the scenario pretty similar over the years, but any fun story can be created for this one.  I have all of the students behind one end of the gymnasium.  I tell them that behind them is an erupting volcano, and we must escape.  The only problem is that they have to cross a giant ocean, and are unable to swim the whole length.  They have special “rocks” that they can step on to help them across. For rocks, I just use blue polyspots that we have in the equipment closet.

I put the students in four separate groups.  For round 1, I give them one extra rock than the number of total students in the group.  Rocks can be picked up, placed down, and handed to each other.  You aren’t allowed to throw or slide a rock.  If any person in the group touches the gym floor, everyone has to re-start.  Once accomplished, I make it harder by taking a rock away.  This forces students to share rocks, or some get creative by piggybacking or leaving a student behind with the idea of going back on a rescue mission.  I love watching students communicate and work together in this one.  Sometimes groups have a hard time working things out, which create good teachable moments!

This game can be played at home, with any number of people.  You can use any kind of material you have around the house for rocks, we used paper plates!  It was fun watching the kids work together to move across the kitchen.  Even Berkeley, our giant puppy, wanted to get involved!

 

Categories: Home from School

Spring Sprouts

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We have been taking a lot of nature walks lately, walking slowly, making observations and taking pieces of nature back home to our “collection”.  C was fascinated to find an acorn that was split and there was “something” coming out of it!  This offered a great opportunity to talk about seeds and he was so surprised to learn that a sprout would come out an acorn to create an oak tree.

Each year we plant seedlings and watch them sprout and grow.  We buy the indoor greenhouse with pellets and have great success!
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But I realized that this activity does not show the very beginning stages of growth.  Several years back, when G was at this curious stage, we did an activity where we started seeds in a clear bottle so we could observe the initial sprout.  I went back and found this picture of her and we planned the activity again and made predictions to make it more of a challenge.

For this seed activity, you need a clear bottle with the top cut off, paper towels, and seeds.

Directions:

1. Wet the paper towels and fill the bottle, with some wiggle room for the seeds to slide in

2. Select several seeds, and fit them with some space in between around the bottle.  You can use a tool like a skewer to help place them where you want

3. Label each seed.  We wrote with Sharpie on the bottle.

4. Place in the sun and observe!

To be more involved in the process we made predictions.  Each kiddo picked 5 seeds and guessed how many days it would take to see the beginning of the sprout and ranked which they thought would be tallest to smallest.  They had clues because we had already planted our seedlings, so they were able to make an educated guess!

Day 7 of our seedlings, cucumber and summer squash are the tallest!

We have been checking in daily to see if their predictions come true!

I will post photo updates later once we have some sprouts 🙂

 

UPDATE: Here are our sprouts 10 days later 🙂

UPDATE: Here is our BEANSTALK 14 days later!

 

 

This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but only share items that I have personally tried and approve.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Home from School