21 June 2015

Homeschooling Update #2 plus free printables

The last 2 weeks on our homeschooling journey has been fun filled and full on. It's amazing how much more you can achieve during the day when you take out school and stress. We find our mornings a lot more relaxed and not rushed (unless we have apts to get to, which is rare) and this alone makes for a better day ahead. We try to do our daily writing etc of a morning but if we cant it doesn't matter as the best part of HSing is we can do it any other time during day or evening if suits better.

We had a few rainy days here this past week so some indoor activities were on the cards. Ella is loving board games (she never used to) especially her sight word games. We change it up each time, either she has to find a word that rhymes with the word she lands on (after she reads it) or needs to make a sentence with that word in it. Rhyming she has down, but she struggles with sentence building so the other day when she came out with a few new sentences during the game unprompted I was so excited and scared her a bit when I yelled out my excitement, whoops (I should come with a warning: excited mum syndrome lol).
Ella loving her board games, especially before bedtime!

One afternoon when the rain was light, we donned the raincoats and went on a rain walk. Ella was so intrigued by the raindrops and how there were so many in different shapes and sizes and how they 'raced' each other down the leaves when she wiggled the plants. She enjoyed looking at them thru her magnifying glass and catching some that were dripping off the leaves.

Our rain walk showed how beautiful nature looks after the rain.

We also had a birthday party for her tiger teddy as a food experiment. She happily helped make the cupcakes and prep the food, but wasn't too interested in eating and got a bit overwhelmed when our friend turned up so she took a little time out for herself out on her book nook before rejoining the party. Baby steps, can't win them all!

Party time for teddy! Food experiment, not a total success this time.

We had another trip to the library and we found a time telling dvd that she seems to really like, and so far has picked up the terms of time telling even if they aren't yet used correctly (eg: look mummy its quarter past half an hour) mmm close sweetie but we will keep working in it! She is also loving reading more and more. We take turns, I read her a book and then she reads one of the beginner learners books. Team work!!! We even watched an elephant doco (at first Ella wasn't too keen but then got right into it saying how cute the baby elephant was and asking why the old one died etc).

 It's so great the library has so many different types of resources available.

This week I have started getting her to fill in the blanks as part of her writing practice. She needs a little prompting but did surprisingly well. I also found an idea on pinterest the other day with a caterpillar and sight words so I made something up and laminated them and she enjoyed writing a word on each circle and making a little sentence (even if it was a sentence she learned from an ipad app and not her own). 
Trying to make writing fun!

Here are some of the other things we have enjoyed doing these past two weeks.

We meet a new HS friend at the local park where we fed the ducks together and while kids played on the swings we kept them interested with a nature collecting hunt. Even some of the other kids at the park joined in and they loved finding 2 brown sticks and 3 seeds and 1 green leaf etc.

Quick fun indoor games on a rainy day...  hopscotch was a completely new concept to Ella but she loved it!  We even made some pom pom shooters and enjoyed trying to get them in the bowls. Nothing is more fun than a simple colour hunt and trying to find things of certain colours that are laying around the house (I had painted an egg carton so it was colour coded for her).

Can't get enough of crafts in this house and a few crafty things we did included drawing, painting a tool caddy at local hardware shop, making our own glitter from salt and food colouring and then making glitter pebbles with hot glue gun (mummy did that part).

We even had a family movie night out.  We all loved the new "Inside Out" movie (seriously awesome movie, I can't wait to see it again when it comes out on DVD) I think going to be a great learning movie for alot of ASD kids.  We even managed some pre-movie arcade games, something we could never have done before. This new improved lifestyle has its perks!

We also tried bird watching (or in Ellas case, scaring the birds away), did some sensory play with sludgy slime (mummy loved this one a bit more than I should have) more scavenger hunts and some practice learning to ride her new bike to name just a few things.

I made a few different scavenger hunt pages up for Ella so I thought I'd share them incase anyone would like to try a quick and easy activity to keep kids interested (especially the grocery store one!)  I have put them on separate pages so you an download them individually.

(this one best for locals to the gold coast obviously)

I hope your child likes them as much as Ella does.

Well that's it for this wrap up, it certainly hasn't been totally easy but with less stress and no major meltdowns it is definitely a journey that has been worth it.  

xx Carley

09 June 2015

Our first week of homeschooling

We have had a bit of an up & down start to our homeschooling journey. I got sick, then a few days later Ella got sick and of course by end of the week hubby was sick.  Apart from the whole being sick thing though it has been an amazing couple of weeks.

First up the most significant difference is we now have no ASD meltdowns of a morning like we were having with the whole getting ready for school (and getting to school) routine that had become a daily anxiety attack waiting to happen.  We now have little to no stress in the mornings and basically throughout the day as well so it has made for a much calmer home and that alone has made this the best decision we have ever made.

Even though we can't legally register Ella until next year for Homeschooling we are still working on creating a learning environment that will help her continue to thrive.  We are very intrigued with the concept of unschooling in the sense that there is not a set structured curriculum to follow, however there are parts of that concept that wont work for us with Ella's uniqueness so we are adopting an eclectic way of teaching that combines both unschooling and some structured homeschooling which will give us the ability to work with Ella's strengths and take time where needed with the areas she struggles in.

Since Ella loves books but struggles to sit still long enough to read more than a few pages we have worked on creating a space for her so that reading in a fun place doesn't seem like a chore. Hello to our outside book nook daybed where we can lay and enjoy the beautiful outdoors while reading together.  So far its worked she happily laid there and read 6 of those early readers to me in half and hour!  (seriously this is huge, it was a massive struggle to get her to read 1 of these types of book in a week so we were doing hi-5's on that part this week).  She also spends time here playing her ipad or having a snack.  I've even found it a nice spot to lay when I sneak outside for 5mins of peace (but don't tell anyone ok).

Ella & I testing out the daybed after putting it together. Another bargain buy of course!

Since we don't have the before school struggle of a morning now, we have put a new 'relaxed' style of routine in place.  Before it was a massive fight to get her to eat and a don't even start on how the 'brush your teeth' battle ended up (needless to say half time it didn't happen).  Now she happily eats the majority of her breakfast, brushes her teeth and goes and gets her clothes and then watches a bit of TV while I get my day started.  It may not seem like much to most people but what a difference it is to us.

Ella's biggest struggle apart from sitting still is writing. It was a MASSIVE task, now we have a 'fun' way to approach it.  Hello mister whiteboard! (my diy board didn't work too well but I found one on sale that is amazing).  Everyday she gets a letter and number of the day and she happily writes on the board some words and draws 'x' amount of shapes, she even writes her name each day. Some days we play a mini pictionary game where she has to guess our drawings (I am no good at drawing so this is daddy's job) and then we get her to draw something too.  We even played hangman and tic tac toe (as best we could while she is learning the concept of these games).  But any excuse to use the whiteboard to get her enjoying to write and its slowly working.

 Ella doing her morning writing.

Another activity we have done this first week is to make a weather dial and everyday she looks out the window and moves the peg to the corresponding weather for the day.
Ella's weather dial. More accurate than the news weather lol.

We have also been playing lots of board games (she is loving jenga and guess who), I have laminated some printable games that promote learning of sight words and counting, we have made a few crafty items, played some random number games, made a bird feeder, gone on a few scavenger hunts, taken a nature walk, visited the library, working on story telling and taken a few day trips to the local theme park plus we have even met up with a few local HSing families and made some new friends. 
A nature scavenger hunt (battling the sunny gold coast winter breeze in her woolies)

Our first trip to the library as homeschoolers!

Our peanut butter bird feeder.  It brought the birds and they pooed on everything, daddy wasn't happy.

A time wasting numbers game. Throw the pom pom onto the right number! Kept her interested while dinner cooked.

Sitting still rolling dice, counting and writing...  triple win! The free printables I find are all pinned on my pinterest board "Homeschooling Happiness".

Working on story telling. Eventually I will get her to scribe. With prompting this turtle made it home and wasn't just eaten by the shark in the first line (as Ella wanted lol)

Yesterdays crafts we made a polar bear, penguin and snowman. More sitting still! yay!!!

I haven't taken as many photos as I'd wanted to but hopefully you can see that we have had a pretty good week.  Ella not only seems happier and more relaxed, so are we!  We are very much excited about this new journey and I hope to blog about our adventures on a weekly or fortnightly basis (depending on time). Bring on the next couple of weeks now that we are all mostly over our sickness.

Until next time.... keep calm and enjoy homeschooling....  :-)