Sunday, February 28, 2016

Food and Fitness with MGT and Tiny B Expands her Palate

We've been in talks with Tiny B's doctors over here and praying, writing emails, and finally celebrating...We are in the final countdown of The Feeding Tube. In three months if she is still growing and not using the tube at all, including taking all of her medication orally, it will be removed! This is a huge victory for our entire family.

I had planned on doing fifteen of the twenty days of lessons for this month's Food and Fitness Mother Goose Time Curriculum, but life gets in the way, and I have only done ten of the days so far plus a lot of the Math and More and Literacy and More workbooks. I'm unsure if I'm going to do the last five days of lessons of if I am going to start the Desert theme right away. Today I'm going to look and figure out my plan. Ahhhhh this is why I love homeschool and I love transitional kindergarten/TK and Mother Goose Time. I want their education to be child-led at this point and our days filled to the brim with playing and wonder. Strong B has really taken to our very small backyard lately, looking for bugs and building forts. This, mixed with interactive activities and some book-learning for Tiny B, is what I consider to be the perfect education for my particular kiddos.

It's very interesting...I had hoped that Tiny B would take a huge interest in learning about the food groups and would want to extend the lessons herself. She didn't do this. When I read our library books about the food pyramid and each different food group, she wasn't glued to the book like she usually is. Inwardly, I felt a little frustrated. I never told her this, of course. We all have our different subjects that interest us and one could easily see why a former tube-fed child wouldn't absolutely love learning about food. But the most interesting thing has happened...About a week ago she started expanding her palate. She had only been eating mac and cheese or broccoli cheese soup for lunch and dinner. She found herself wanting to try chicken. Like, truly wanting to and not just trying it for me. She ate one nugget and we were all so excited. Last night she had a pancake in syrup. This is huge for her because she doesn't like dips or dressings on her food. She has smelled barbecue cooking in our neighborhood and insisted that Daddy cook some on our barbecue. So what I'm getting at is that children might not seem absolutely intrigued by the lessons or even interested, but they might be internalizing it without even wanting to. (Side note: this can be really good if it's something that we want them to learn or really bad if it's something that we as parents don't want them to learn or if we don't agree with the subject matter that is being taught...)

I'm going to take you through some of the activities in the first eight days of lessons so that you can see why she might have started internalizing some of the discoveries.

For the anticipatory set (preparing them for the lessons) we went to the Farmer's Market. I gave them each a few dollars to spend. They both chose apples and ate them that week.

On Day 1 we learned about grains. They did "Grain Discovery" where they felt different grains and built their vocabulary with adjectives that described the grains such as soft, slick, sharp, etc. I extended this to having her draw letters in trays that I lined with dried oatmeal. Her occupational therapist wants me to do a lot of sensory activities while learning to write her letters as opposed to only pencil and paper. It's easier and doing this using oatmeal or shaving cream or dirt, for example, is fun and builds up her hand muscles and the repetition is very beneficial so that it becomes more automatic.

We did "Sandwich Art" and again practiced our fine motor skills while thinking about what we'd want on our most perfect sandwich. According to Tiny B who doesn't yet have the courage to eat a sandwhich, her most perfect sandwich would include eggs and broccoli.

On Day 2 we learned about vegetables. I read them a book about vegetables (These books were from the library and I read one on each day) and Strong B was a lot more interested than Tiny B.

We drew a picture of ourselves eating our favorite food in "My Little Journal" and ate our apples from the farmer's market. I enjoy having Tiny B use a pencil in no-pressure activities such as drawing.

We also did "Sprout a Bean" using the Discover Science Card. It gave easy directions in which the kids could follow the pictures and interpret what to do. We really enjoyed observing these over the coming weeks and discussed science words such as "observe" and "predict." I even threw in the word "hypothesis" and made them say it because it was so darn cute.

On Day 3 we learned about fruits. It had been my goal for the month to do discuss the concept of the day during circle time and to sing the opening song to the tunes on the Circle Time CD. Today we sang "Let's Eat Fruit" to the tune of "Frere Jacques." I was able to meet my goal and used the Circle Time CD every day!

We did "Strawberry Stamping" and the kids enjoyed using the pokey balls to paint so much that we had to extend it to making a few more masterpieces on plain white paper. I love showing them that art doesn't have to include just using paintbrushes or pencil or crayon. I LOVE looking at the differences in their finished products!

We also did a "Fruit Hunt" and looked through advertisements in the paper and tried to name the items and what food group they belonged to. Tiny B is a smart cookie, but her personal exposure to food has been so small that she really doesn't know many food items. It's so interesting.

On Day 4 we did "Milk a Cow" which was adorable! First I showed them YouTube videos so that they could see what milking a cow actually looked like. Then we poked hold in the vinyl glove which was included in this month's curriculum, and "milked a cow" outside. I'm not kidding you when I say that this evolved into hours of imaginative play.

We had a lesson on "Parts of a Cow" and made the art activity. Isn't it absolutely adorable?

Then we did the "Seek and Find Food" activity using the Theme Poster for the month. This lead to a great discussion on the different foods that should be represented on your plate. It's important to note that I made sure to tread very carefully with this discussion and the ones following it because Tiny B just isn't to the point yet of having all of the food groups on her plate at once. It's overwhelming and I don't want to pressure her. I will say that I believe that this is one of the activities that might have put some desire in her brain to start wanting to eat other foods. In the last week, she's added cookies, pancakes, and chicken nuggets to her repertoire, which is HUGE. Oh, and smoothies! How can I forget about that??

On Day 5 we learned about protein and played "Catching Fish" which had them pushing each other around the family room in a laundry basket and stringing paper fish into their pipe cleaner hook. We also played the "Healthy Plate Game" which again involved discussion of food groups.

On Day 6 we learned about Cleaning and Safety in the kitchen. I had them trace "food bacteria" with their fingers. Tiny B's occupational therapist was impressed with this one, as it's yet another way to learn letters without the pressure of a pencil!

We made a "Hand Wash Hanger" and practiced washing our hands in the kitchen while singing "This is the way we wash our hands..." to the tune of "Mulberry Bush." I'm happy to say that the signs continue to hang in the bathroom and kitchen and Tiny B is quick to remind people of the germs that are everywhere and that they must follow the directions on the sign! We also used oven mitts in a game and practiced our knife skills using a banana (and then ate the banana of course).

I didn't take any pictures of Day 7 which was about measuring and pouring. We set up a lemonade stand and Tiny B practiced her math and money skills with grandma.

On Day 8 we "chopped and stirred" and read the I Can Read book called "Dan Ran" and worked on our sight words.

This blog post has taken me two days to write amidst the craziness which is life with two young rascals, and in that time I've decided to extend Food and Fitness for one more week. We still have to talk about growth (this is a big one!) where I will show Tiny B her NICU videos and check-ups (Tiny B has experienced far too many of those!) and we need to work with our Geo Boards and make patterns with sports balls.

Actually, it would be better if I could extend it another month!

I'm very excited...Next week I'm going to share Mother Goose Time's assessment booklets and how I used them with my kiddos. It's going to be a busy week over here filled with more Food and Fitness and our usual homeschool/appointments/trying to stay sane life. Lots to look forward to and big things to celebrate!

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Celebrating a Gain for Tiny B, and the MGT Valentines Day Kit

It has been a difficult few weeks over here, not because of Tiny B not doing well (She's doing really well!), but because I've been a sad sack of worry. She's been a little sick and it's been really hard to get her to eat. This is a normal behavior in children...Strong B goes through periods where he just doesn't eat very much and it doesn't bother me one bit. But when we are trying to put weight on Tiny B to ensure the future removal of the feeding tube and to keep her growing and healthy, it is just plain difficult. I foolishly believed that once she was weaned, my life would finally by "normal" but it's not. I'm still counting every calorie and always questioning if I'm feeding her too little, too much, if it's okay that I'm adding fat, if I'm a good mother, if I'm pressuring her, making her love food too little, too much, blah blah blah...

I think that's the normal course for a special needs parent. As Tiny B grows and becomes more typical, I just don't know what do to. And that is exactly what is happening...She is blowing me away with what she is accomplishing and I need to start viewing her as a typical little girl in so many ways!

I'm going to share how God really touched my heart last week. He reserves really special things for me for when I really, really need them.

I've been feeling lost with our medical team. The Austrian doctors who weaned Tiny B are in Austria and they just can't help any further. They were AMAZING and what I wouldn't give to have them here in America, but that just can't happen. I've had to really have faith in myself and God that I'm doing the right thing with her care. I was texting my worried thoughts to my very good friend, and she said something along the lines of the fact that I know what I'm doing, even if I don't have a degree in it. I thought for a second, and I saw flashing lights in my head and I said, "Wait! I do have a degree in this! My degree is in child development!" I've sometimes regretted my decision to get my degree in child development instead of liberal arts, because with the liberal arts degree I wouldn't have had to take the awful MSAT test that I had to take to get into the teacher credentialing program. But now I see...I know child development! And I know the stages they go through and I've taken a lot of classes on the subject. God wanted to remind me of that to give me the confidence that I so desperately lack. And perhaps He guided me in that decision twenty years ago. I need to remind myself that I am more an expert on my child than the doctors are, and that I can do this.

After I texted my friend what had happened, we were both in awe. I told her about Tiny B's little head at birth and how it was the size of a tennis ball. A few hours later, I found Tiny B sitting in the backyard, petting a tennis ball lovingly with her hand. Whoa.

That evening, we were both in the bathroom. I don't weigh her often and I don't like her to get on the scale by herself because I don't want her to even think about her weight. It's not a subject we discuss in front of her. I always have to pick her up with me because her weight is too small to register on the scale and it always says zero. Well, she jumped on the scale and I told her to get off of it. She stood there and it said thirty-five. I was amazed because she wasn't thirty-five pounds but that is what I wanted her to be and the number I kept thinking about. I texted my friend and told her just how cool that was that God had thrown that number on the scale for me.

A few weeks passed, and we went to the doctor today, and guess what she weighed? Thirty-five. God is amazing and so full of love for me that He kept telling me that it was going to be all right. And continued  His little hints today, when we saw the number "thirty-five."

And in the spirit of love, I'm going to talk about the Mother Goose Time Valentines Day Kit. I don't know where this blog falls...Is it a curriculum blog or a mommy blog? I think it's both. I think it's me chronicling a very amazing time in our lives--weaning from a feeding tube and our first year of homeschool while we use Mother Goose Time Curriculum.

Anyway, they always include a kit every month for a special occasion, and it's always such a sweet surprise to see what activities are included.

For the second time since we've had Tiny B and Strong B, my husband and I went on a dinner date! I did a few of the Valentines activities with them, but I left the rest for my mom to do as she babysat! I showed her the lesson planning booklet that comes with the kit. It is part of my dream that my mom take on some of their homeschool lessons as we move through the homeschooling years. She's an amazingly talented artist. With MGT, it is actually quite easy to have someone else take on a few lessons because the teacher guide's are so thorough.

I sang the circle time song with them and we made the Love Bugs hats together. As usual with the art activities, they practiced their fine motor skills, right down to peeling the stickers off of the page. They went outside when their hats were complete and pretended they were bugs and did bug things. A few days later and we are still wearing them.

And then we left! My mom read them the story "The Prince's Valentine" which was included in the kit. The kids moved the story pieces as they came up in the story. I had told her to have Tiny B repeat the story as we are working on her comprehension and retelling skills. She said that Tiny B was definitely able to retell the story and understood it. Strong B wasn't quite there yet (and this might be because he is three and was possibly thinking about cars :)

They then did the activity where they matched the lower-case letter heart piece to the upper-case letter heart piece. Tiny B has this objective down but Strong B is still working on it. They laid out the fitness poster and threw a small rock and wherever it landed, that is the exercise that they had to do. Perfect practice of gross motor skills. The kids really enjoyed this because they are beginning to understand through this month's curriculum what fitness is and why it is so important, plus--they want MUSCLES!!!!

So thankful for God's blessings and for His reassurance, as well as a sweet curriculum that gently leads my kiddos to where they need to be.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lesson Planning with Mother Goose Time and Food and Fitness

I love love love preparing things. I love pre-planning my menus and writing down my grocery lists. I have a fitness/weight loss journal in which I prepare for my day and write down what I plan on eating and what exercise I want to do. Currently my new desk is in disarray because I'm preparing it to be my little workstation where I will read my One Year Bible, my devotional, make my lists, lesson plan, and eventually I'll start working with my husband in his insurance business. I am a planning fool.

So with all of this love of preparation, why on earth have I never done much prep with Mother Goose Time (MGT)?! The answer is that I purposely wanted our lessons to really depend on how Tiny B was doing with her health and with her food intake. I wanted to just go with the flow and follow her lead, as well as Strong B's lead. And I can honestly say that it has worked out fabulously! I'm thrilled with how much the curriculum has been able to truly follow them in their needs, and that's a HUGE part of why I'm homeschooling now and why I will continue to homeschool as long as there is a need/I am able to do it.

I do want you to know that this is against my normal teaching style. (Please see the last blog post to learn more about how Type A I was in the classroom with teaching the learning objectives repeatedly and on a strict schedule). In the ten years that I taught elementary school, you would always find me on Sundays on my bed with my teacher manuals and lesson plan book sprawled out everywhere for hours, particularly when I taught sixth grade! I loved using my mechanical pencil to write out every detail of the week. I made meticulous notes in the notes section and my lesson plan books actually served as my calendar for all life events! (I was lost in the summertime without my lesson planner!)

With MGT, and in my particular situation, it has been completely doable to sit down for "school," go to my file box, take out the day's activities (which come in a plastic bag), briefly read the teacher planner, and start the activities within five minutes! With two children who are able to entertain themselves while I do this, it is no problem. In a preschool it would most certainly be a problem, but not with my two little students/children. MGT writes out the lesson for you and it is detailed in such an easy to understand manner. There are times when I don't have the exact thing that I need, and in that case, I will use something else. One of my teacher partner's and I were really adept at teaching on the fly, and it is definitely being put to use now!

This year as we wean from the feeding tube, and I spend lots of time writing down calories and planning where the day's calories will come from, the ease of use with MGT has been a true blessing to me.

This month I wanted to try something a little different. Tiny B receives therapies through her charter school, as well as one half day of school a week, and I've been having difficulty getting to all of the curriculum in MGT. I'm sure her outside therapies will remain a challenge for us in the years coming as we do homeschool. They just take a lot of time. I wanted to put in some time ahead with the lessons to really look at the objectives and choose the activities that are necessary for her. There are some activities that can be left out because I'm not a preschool and because I'm differentiating for my kiddos. I also want to be able to fit in more of the Math and More and Literacy and More add on workbooks that I use every month. These books are a huge tool in preparing Tiny B for kindergarten next year.

We will see how this works for this month and then evaluate if I'll do it again next month. I am about 99 percent sure that I will...As we get closer to kinder I really want to hone in on those skills and I want to find a way to fit in the things that are truly necessary.

I did about half of the planning for the month during the Superbowl! See, it really doesn't take long at all since it is a curriculum that is really done for you! I brought my file folders and their container to my mom's house. I laid it out on the table and got to work.

And then I made my hubby take another picture.

This contains everything from this month. Each file is a day and I have a file for circle time activities, teacher manuals, and the month's extra activity, which is Valentine's Day this month. 

I usually keep each day's work in the plastic bag that it comes in. This time I took the activities out of each day's bag. I looked at the particular day and read through each lesson (There are always four main activities). I decided which activities met the objectives that I wanted her to work on. If it was too simple, I either crossed it out or wrote in my own plans to make it more of a challenge. MGT often times adds a note as to how to make the activity more challenging, and I LOVE this!

On most days, we do two-four of the activities. This month will be the same, except that this time I'm looking at those activities ahead of time. My perfect homeschool day would be to do the calendar, discuss the weather, do our opening question and song, read a book on the subject of the day, do two-four of the activities, a Math and More and Literacy and more worksheet page, and a closing question and song. Unfortunately, with a three year-old in the mix, and everyday life, I rarely have a perfect homeschool day and it's actually done throughout the day and night with us having to revisit the same lesson the next day to finish! But that's okay at this age and stage of our lives (and I'd even go farther to say that it is exactly my go with the flow and adjust according to their needs).

On the day that we learn about Growth, we are going to watch her NICU videos!!!! I'm so excited for her to see how much she's grown since she was one pound!!! 

As I pulled out each lesson I prepped it for that day, which often included cutting and putting the activities in freezer bags and then always back into their file for the day.

I also used my Gathering List and Planning Journal to get what I needed and take more notes.

I got to see all of the activities for the month, and let's just say that it really got me excited! Look at this book!

And oh my goodness, this cow art/science activity is to die for.

Look at this pizza. Oh my. I cannot handle the cuteness of those little mushrooms and pepperonis.

(I apologize for the poor quality of my pictures. We used my husband's phone to take the pictures and he texted them to me).

I realized that this month is going to extend even more because I found the Valentine's Day lessons when I got home!I I love it!

What fun we are going to have this month!! This month we are going to cover some very important topics, especially for Tiny B. The first two weeks are about the food groups and preparing food in the kitchen. I am praying that specifically learning about these things will prompt her to want to fill up her plate with different foods (she doesn't eat much of a variety at all) and to want to cook more with me and take part in creating foods for her to eat. Strong B has more of a desire to be a chef with me at this time. The third week is about fitness, and I'm actually going to do the fourth week in the third week, because I find it to be more important for them at this time. It's about health (check up, growth, strength, balance, and rest) and it truly encompasses what Tiny B is focusing on this year...which is taking care of herself. We always remind her that when she is eating, she is taking care of herself. If we have time (which I suspect we won't), we will do the third week's activities which are about fitness.

I posted on MGT's Facebook page that we were expanding our safari unit, and they answered that this is how they want us to use the make it our own. That's a huge reason why I love it so much.

Often times we are using fun subject matter to teach the objectives. For example, I taught my 6th graders what a sarcophagus is, but used it as a vehicle to teach writing skills. This month, I am not only teaching the skills that go along with the subject matter, but the subject matter is something that is in and of itself as important as the skills. Food and Fitness/Taking Care of Yourself is something that Tiny B and even Strong B will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.