Posts Tagged With: photography

Lesson Plan: A is for Alligator

We’re starting our preschool year with the letters of the alphabet. Each letter goes with a theme that we focus on for the week. Each week covers math, science, geography, sensory activities, crafts, letters, calendar, weather, music, ASL, Bible, P.E., and story time. It may seem like a lot, but Isaiah gets through most of it in under two hours each day. Some activities are only once or twice a week. If it takes longer, it’s because he’s having too much fun and wants to keep doing something longer than originally planned. I’m sure not going to argue with that.

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Just being cute

A is for Alligator

Click here to see the full lesson plan for the week. Feel free to use all or part of it yourself.

Our days all start out the same. We look at the calendar, discuss the weather and sing the ABCs. This is an opportunity to practice counting (days on the calendar), learn about dates, learn the weather, and do a little quick review.

The “name” section on the lesson plan is pretty simple. Isaiah does not write his name yet. He has learned the first two letters and really struggles with the rest, so we have to work on that every morning. I try to give some variety and do things he enjoys so that he’s more willing to practice.

I chose 5 Little Monkeys to learn this week because I couldn’t find any rhymes specifically about alligators. The rhyme can be found here. Isaiah loved it and picked up on it very quickly. Along with the rhyme, we always sing a couple of songs. I wrote in some songs I knew he’d know well to kick off our year because I wanted to keep things simple. Music is pretty flexible, though. Once we did what was written on the plan, I let him pick a couple of songs he wanted to sing. The purpose of music time is simply to have fun and get a basic introduction to music, though, really, he’s already pretty familiar with music because he’s in a music loving family.

Isaiah saying his rhyme

I have chosen to work on American Sign Language with Isaiah as a foreign language. He’s also working on Spanish with my dad, but that’s not on the lesson plan because he’s not around during our school hours. I believe that learning more languages is good for his brain’s development, so I work hard to give him lots of opportunities to learn them. Again, we started really simple. I didn’t want to overwhelm him at the beginning because school needs to be fun at this age. There’s certainly freedom to add more during phases where he’s picking things up quickly. The lesson plan will still just show a few key words that I really want him to know by the end of the week. Just assume he’s likely picking up a bit more than that. These words also go on his word wall. (If you’d like to do ASL with your child, this is a great free resource to get you started.

Our reading plan was a bit all over the place this week because the library had nothing about alligators. Oops. We also make sure to take some time for a Bible lesson. This includes reading Bible stories and working on his AWANA book and memory verse.

Isaiah's first AWANA verse

Science is Isaiah’s favorite thing in the world, so I wanted to make sure to nourish that. This week’s science included a video because he learns well through that. He’s been watching several science shows for quite a while and regularly amazes me with his understanding. Wild Kratts (and really anything by the Kratt brothers) is really popular with him and has tons of great, kid friendly information. After watching the video, we discussed what he’d learned and what he thought about it. On another day, we took it a step further by coloring a picture of an alligator’s habitat. This was another opportunity to talk about where they live, what they eat and what they look like.

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Coloring the alligator habitat

Math varies a lot for Isaiah because he doesn’t count very high, but within the numbers he knows, he’s able to do simple addition and subtraction. This week focused on getting him to count a little higher. I printed off pictures of alligators for him to count. I laid out different numbers for him and asked how many he saw. When the numbers got too high for him, I helped him to keep going.

Geography is another activity that Isaiah has shown a specific interest in. He’s fascinated by maps and wants to be able to read them. He loves to ask where people and animals live, when looking at maps. So, we’re working with maps as much as possible. This week, we charted the American Alligator’s territory on a simple outline map. This was also an opportunity to introduce him to using books for research (he’s used to seeing me Google things, so it’s important to me that he learn that information can be found in books, too). Since, obviously, he’s not reading, I helped him locate the right page in a book about animals so that he could find the map and copy the territory to his map.

A is for Alligator Map

Isaiah's completed map

Sensory and craft times are lots of fun. This week, Isaiah practiced writing the letter A in shaving cream, made an alligator from the letter A, played with water beads, made a card for his cousin, and played in a bucket of beans.

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Not so sure about the shaving cream

Letter A Alligator

Working happily on his alligator

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Water beads

P.E. for us is just an opportunity to burn some energy. Sometimes it’s pretty organized, other times it’s just Isaiah being wild. This week, I taught Isaiah how to play hopscotch. He was absolutely thrilled and has started using the tiles in the kitchen as a giant game of hopscotch. We also played with a mini trampoline and played games. Sadly, the weather went sour on us, so he didn’t get to ride his bike, but he’s hoping for a dry day to do next week.

Isaiah made up a song to help himself get the steps right


Hopscotch fun

Categories: Homeschool, Lesson Plans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Handkerchief Doll

Isaiah loves making things, so when I came across some cloth napkins and styrofoam balls in a box of craft supplies, I decided to let him make a handkerchief doll with them. He thought that was a pretty cool idea and begged to make more when he finished his.

Isaiah's finished doll

Making the doll is pretty simple.

What you need:
1 large handkerchief or cloth napkin (handkerchiefs are softer)
1 ball–this can be a styrofoam ball, a wad of stuffing or a wooden bead
1 piece of ribbon or yarn, about 12 inches or so

Spread the handkerchief out flat and place the ball in the center. Pull the fabric up around it and make sure there’s a smooth area for the face. (For older kids, you can have them sew a face and hair on with embroidery floss before putting it on the ball, but with little ones, they’ll be drawing features after the doll is assembled.) Take the yarn and wrap it around the fabric, just below the ball, a couple of times, then tie a double knot and bow. Turn your child loose with markers to draw a face, hair and designs on the “dress”.

Coloring the doll's dress

Categories: Attachment Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wave Bottles

Isaiah and I made a couple of wave bottles tonight. The goal was to make one that glowed under a black light. Our first one did not, so we made a second.

Wave Bottles

Well shaken wave bottle


Empty plastic bottle
Highlighter (make sure it’s fluorescent)
Oil (we used baby oil)

Wave Bottles

Supplies for Bottle #1

Take apart the highlighter and put the foamy ink cartridge out. Put it into the water to soak. You can squeeze it to make the ink come out faster, but beware–you may end up with dyed fingers. I used a fork to press the ink out, though I still ended up with some on my hands. Isaiah even, somehow, managed to get it on his face. Once the water has a good bit of ink in it, take the foam out and throw it away. Pour the water into the water bottle, filling it about two thirds of the way. Drop in a bit of confetti and top off the bottle with oil. Hot glue the lid on and you’re ready to play.

Wave Bottles

Soaking the ink

Wave Bottles

Finished bottle

As I said, our first bottle didn’t work. My pink highlighter (Isaiah’s color of choice this week) wasn’t fluorescent. Oops. We also didn’t put any confetti in that bottle. It still makes an awesome wave bottle. The color from the highlighter looks really nice and very different from what we would have gotten with food coloring.

Wave Bottles

Isaiah says it makes really good waves

Wave Bottles


For our second bottle, we used a yellow highlighter. We tested it with the black light before pulling it apart to be sure it would glow. I let Isaiah put some confetti into this bottle, which he was pretty excited about. Then I turned him loose to try it with the black light. My dad propped it up against the side of the tv so that Isaiah could do whatever he wanted with his bottle, without someone having to hold the light the entire time. Isaiah raced back and forth, putting the bottle in front of the light, then moving away for quite a while. He decided to test a few other things under the black light, too.

Wave Bottles

Looking through the glowing bottle

Wave Bottles

Floating confetti

Glowing Boy

My glowing boy

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Science, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sensory Bottle–First Attempt

Isaiah and I made a sensory bottle last night. I only had one bottle, so we just made a very simple one this time. Here’s what we did.

Sensory Bottle

Our finished bottle

What you need:
Empty bottle (we used a Gatorade bottle)
Food coloring (must be water based)
We also used some stickers because we didn’t have confetti

Sensory Bottle

Isaiah with his bottle full of glitter and stickers

I let Isaiah put the stickers and glitter into the bottle before adding the water. Once he was done adding glitter and stickers, I carefully poured some of the water in. With very close supervision, I allowed Isaiah to add food coloring to the water. Giving him control resulted in a really dark color, but he liked the independence of doing it himself. I added the rest of the water and glued on the lid. He’s been playing with it ever since. Next time, we’re going to try using baby oil for some of the bottles.

Sensory Bottle

Excited that there's water inside

Sensory Bottle

Dye mixing

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My Dog, A Special Friend

When I was 15, our family dog, Zach, a funny looking mutt, died suddenly of cancer. I had trained him and showed him in 4-H. He was my best friend. We had been preparing to go to the state fair dog show when he got sick. I ended up going to the state fair alone. When we got Zach, my dad was less than enthusiastic. He doesn’t really like dogs. Well… He didn’t before Zach. He got Zach from some people at our church because my mom had seen him and fallen in love and it was about her birthday. Zach became a huge, important part of my family. Even my dad loved him and enjoyed time with him. When Zach died, my dad said we would never own another dog. Never. He couldn’t deal with the thought of getting attached and losing another.


Me and Zach

Well, after seven years as dog owners, DJ and I just couldn’t imagine living without a dog! We begged and pleaded. Promised we’d do alllll the work that comes with dog ownership. We kept getting the same answer, “never again”. One day, we decided to try a new approach. My dad is a pastor. We decided to use that to our advantage. What pastor would refuse to pray about anything? We made a deal with him. He was to pray about getting a dog, then, whatever the answer, we’d drop it. He agreed, promising the answer would still be “no”.

A couple weeks later, my dad gathered us in front of the computer (the desktop was the only one with internet ) and pulled up some puppy pictures. He told us we’d be meeting the breeder the next day and bringing home a puppy. As thrilled as we were to be getting a puppy, both DJ and I felt a little ripped off. I wanted a boxer and he wanted a Jack Russell terrier. My dad had chosen neither. In fact, he’d chosen a breed we knew nothing about! A corgi. The only thing we knew about them was that I’d seen them in the Thanksgiving dog show.

Baby Max

Little bundle of energy and fur

Turns out, after hearing our plea to pray, my dad did just that–and started dreaming about a corgi. My mom teases him that it’s because he has British roots and the queen has corgis. (He tends to be fascinated by anything involving British royalty. ) Beyond the dreams, none of us could figure out why he chose a corgi, but a dog is a dog. We met the breeder and came home with a bundle of energy. Within a couple days, he’d received the name Maxwell Edward. My dad wanted Edward because it’s a British royal name. My mom said that was way too big for such a little ball of fluff that would never grow beyond 30 pounds. She likes giving dogs middle names for when they’re in trouble, so Edward became a middle name. This bundle of energy is commonly known as Max.

Baby Max

It sleeps!

Jump forward four years from meeting Max. Isaiah is three and diagnosed with SPD. He is likely somewhere on the autism spectrum. Our lives are full of meltdowns and stimming. Max is still here. Old enough to behave like a mature dog for the first time in his life. He also has a canine sibling, the “furball” Dusty. Dusty is a fireball and always in trouble. We love him anyway. Max plays hard for short periods, then goes back to his adult “duties”. Max is proving to be the best thing in the world for Isaiah. He’s calm when Isaiah is absolutely losing it. He lets Isaiah pet him backwards, play with his ears, put toys on him, snuggle too close and give lots of kisses. When he’s tired of it, he moans and walks away.


World's most patient dog

Today, I shared a picture of a very teary, post-meltdown Isaiah grinning at Max, who’s sitting just in front of him on an SPD page. A number of parents posted about their corgis and how amazing they are with their SPD kids. Looking back, maybe the choice of corgi wasn’t so random after all. God knew we’d have this quirky little SPD boy who needs a very special dog. He knew how great corgis are for SPD kids. He knew that Max has an amazing personality (the vote for Max over the other puppies was unanimous, something that never happens in my family). I am so insanely grateful that my dad listened to our pleading and God’s messages in his dreams and contacted Max’s breeder. Max has made all our lives happier, but he has completely changed Isaiah’s from what it would be without this furry rock in his life.

Corgi Magic

Isaiah and Max, after Isaiah's meltdown

Categories: Miscellaneous, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lesson Plan: The Best Nest

Topic: The Best Nest

Book: The Best Nest

•Learn about birds’ homes
•Learn about what birds may use to build a nest
•Learn places birds can put their nests


The Best Nest

The Best Nest

Supplies Needed
•Nest Building Supplies
•leaves (base material, we used palm branches that were left from Palm Sunday)
•yarn (for sweater string and stocking string)
•thread (for horse hair and man hair)
•stuffing (for mattress stuffing)
•Washable paints

The Best Nest

Isaiah posing with the supplies and book

The Best Nest

All the nest-building supplies, ready to use

The Best Nest

Feather painting supplies

Large Group Activities
•Talk about birds and where they might live. Ask students for their thoughts. Ask what they might make nests from.
•Read The Best Nest.
•Bring out nest building supplies and pass out a few pieces to each student.
•Have the students help assemble a nest like the one the birds built in the story.

The Best Nest

Excited about his leaves and twigs

The Best Nest

Playing with the leaves

The Best Nest

Soda straws for the nest

The Best Nest

Adding the ''horse hair''

The Best Nest

Isaiah's finished nest

Table Time Activity
•Hand out paper and feathers. Give each student at least two feathers.
•Put paint on trays and allow students to use the feathers as paint brushes to create art.
•Encourage the students to try different techniques, such as stamping or dragging the feather across the page.

The Best Nest

Happily settling in to paint

The Best Nest

Making careful marks

The Best Nest

Showing off his finished painting

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Lesson Plans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


This may not really seem like a sensory idea, but I think it is. Isaiah loves bubbles. He loves blowing. The blowing seems to really help him and he blows when he doesn’t have bubbles, so why not use bubbles to help him enjoy the sensation? Here are some pictures of him enjoying the bubbles.




''I caught one!''



Categories: Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Toxic Waste Slime

We stopped in Dollar Tree to pick up paper cups for a craft and I promised Isaiah that he could pick one toy to buy. While we were there, I kept an eye out for new sensory activities, as always. Isaiah selected a dolphin that he immediately deemed “Winter“. I was quite happy to have a find of my own. A little plastic barrel of neon colored slime. It was made to look like a toxic waste container. I couldn’t tell through the packaging what it might be like, but I figured for a buck, it was worth a try for Isaiah.

Toxic Waste Slime

Toxic waste

Well, it was a hit! It’s the nastiest substance I’ve encountered in quite a while, but Isaiah loves it. He played in it happily for a long time and I’m sure he’ll be happy to see it again soon!

Toxic Waste Slime

This is definitely the face of a happy child

Toxic Waste Slime

Such a weird substance...

Categories: Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sensory Table

Just for fun, I set up a table with a bunch of sensory toys for Isaiah. He thought it was amazing. I put a water bucket on the floor so he could rinse his hands when he felt a need, too, which made him happier to stay for a while. He switched between activities constantly. I think I’ll set him up with a different set of sensory activities soon. It was certainly worth the effort of setting it up!

Sensory Table

All the sensory activities on Isaiah's table

Activity 1: Water Beads

I put his water beads in a pan with some plastic hearts that I got around Valentine’s Day. I also put out some cups to scoop and pour the water beads. Of course, he also had the option to try to sort out the hearts, but he was much more interested in pouring the beads.

Sensory Table

Water beads and plastic hearts, waiting for Isaiah

Sensory Table

Scooping water beads

Activity 2: Beans and Cars

Isaiah adores cars, so I put a set of little plastic cars in a pan with dry beans. Again, I gave him cups and scoops to manipulate the beans. He was more interested in the cars than scooping, though, which was fine with me. He tried to make roads to drive the cars on. After a while, he tried burying the cars, too.

Sensory Table

The cars and beans

Sensory Table

Driving a car

Activity 3: Shaving Cream

The last activity was a pan of shaving cream. I put some red hearts in the bottom of the pan before I added the shaving cream. They were completely covered, so Isaiah didn’t even know they were there until he stuck his hands deep into the shaving cream. He didn’t stay with the shaving cream for very long because he wasn’t in the mood for messy play. He was more interested in having an excuse to stick his hands in the bucket of water.

Sensory Table

Shaving cream and carefully hidden hearts

Sensory Table

Shaving cream doesn't pour very well...

Categories: Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fluffy Stuff

I came across this recipe about a week ago and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have as much cornstarch as it called for, so I just made a small batch. It’s been a huge hit. The best part is that it can be put in a bag and saved for another day. It’s lasted us a week so far.

"Fluffy Stuff"

Fluffy Stuff

2 boxes of cornstarch
1 can of shaving cream
Optional: dye/food coloring (we didn’t add any color)
Mix together until the shaving cream is spread evenly through the mixture

"Fluffy Stuff"

Helping mix it and totally amazed

"Fluffy Stuff"

Deep concentration

The shaving cream makes the concoction cling to itself just enough to be able to form balls (or rocks, as Isaiah called them). If you pinch them or poke them with a spoon, though, they turn back to powder. Isaiah thought this was great fun. He also loves just burying his hands in the mixture and scooping it.

"Fluffy Stuff"

Sneaking a taste. He says it tastes like chocolate. Not so sure I believe that one...

"Fluffy Stuff"

Having tons of fun

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Play, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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