Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lemonade Fractions

Cooking provides for so many learning activities. I've been wanting to introduce Lachie to fractions for a while. Although a lot of fraction work is done in grade two, he becomes confused over terms such as half which can result in upset over someone having two halves of something and him only having one whole. He has been asking to make home made lemonade for a while so I used this as an opportunity to teach halves and wholes.

  • First we got the recipe from this site Design Mom through Pinterest.  I pre-made the sugar syrup as I was not keen for Lachie to be around boiling sugar. 
  • Then we spent time cutting the lemons in half and I demonstrated half and whole.
  •  I only have an electric citrus juicer. I am always looking for fine motor development opportunities and I once saw Jamie Oliver roll a lemon to help release the juices. I got Lachie to squeeze and roll each lemon (we used 5 lemons). This is great for hand strength
  • I cut the lemons but Lachie wanted a go, I gave him a go at one while I held the lemon in place.
  • I held the lemon on the juicer and he turned the dial (he got a bit impatient at times...ouch).
  • We mixed the syrup, juice, and water and strained it as my kids are fussy with pulp.
  • He ladled his own and it tasted really nice.
Ideas for extension:
  • Manual juicing would be great for hand strength and safer for toddlers to join in
  • Different flavours could be incorporated
  • You could set up a lemonade stand and have the kids sell to their other parent and siblings.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Today we worked on phonics and oral motor development. Lachie is really good at reading but gets confused over some sounds. We chose to concentrate on the "OW" sound in blow. It can be tricky as it changes according to the different letter blends it is paired with. For example the "OW" in Owl or Bowl sounds different to the "OW" in Blow. At least in our Aussie accents. 
  • First we took photos of Aria and Lachie blowing into a bubble blower. 
  • Second we intended on doing bubble painting but the paint was too heavy and did not produce coloured bubbles. The paper got all soggy. So after a few "experiments" with the bubble water we decided we needed something circular to print the bubbles.
  • Lachie used a small piece of pvc pipe and the moon stamps we made out of bottle caps earlier in the year.
  • Aria who is more happy than Lachie to get messy used just the bottle caps, but not the stamps.
  • Aria wanted pink paper, I only had orange card so she stamped hers onto pink paper then helped me glue the bubbles on the card once we cut them out.
  • I cut out and glued on their pictures.
  • Lachie chose the letters to spell out "blow".
  • Aria chose her coloured letters.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Letting Go of Ideals

Once I received some constructive criticism from a college lecturer that I was incredibly proud of. I was so proud of this feedback I went and thanked her. She looked at me and shook her head and smiled. At the time I was confused about her response. The feedback was that I was too idealistic. The lecturer was my college lecturer for my child care course. My ideals were that children should be free to learn in an open ended environment. I wholeheartedly believed they should never be given restrictive activities such as colouring in and materials such as google eyes and technology was a big no-no (it was the 90s though).  This kind of idealism came crashing down when I had my own special needs children. The lesson that idealism can actually restrict children only occurred to me when I began homeschooling Lachie. It has taken me 17 years to figure out that my lecturer was not  in fact complimenting my idealism.

I recently decided to push aside my ideas about natural learning (gasp, shock, horror!) and do what just works. The result  can be seen in the photo adjacent. It doesn't look like much but it is HUGE, a massive effort from a boy who would not, could not, in his own mind possibly produce a whole page of writing. Even in this style I made some huge sacrifices in the name of letting go. There is no Queensland correct script, we are learning capitals only at this stage, and there is no pressure and no erasing during the lesson.

I see the parents of special needs children grasping at their remaining idealism all the time on the Internet. I see indignation over so many of the little things. I see arguments fiercely erupt (truth be told I have been involved) over whether children are Autistic or have Autism, whether it is a condition, disorder, disease, curable, preventable......etc. Maybe we should let go of these ideals and just do what works, it takes effort and trial and error to do what works but we sure as heck are not going to find out what that is if we sit around debating all day long.  I never forget an experienced mother telling a group of new mothers that no matter what they believed, read, or wanted, ultimately the child and not the parent guides the choices you make for your child. She then went on to advise them to throw away the baby books. I think we need to go a step further and engage in the world with an open mind.