Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review of Preschool Math and Rhyming Mega Bundle From the Educents Preschool Rocks Bundle

I am extremely excited to share a new product with you! I agreed to give an honest review of both the Preschool Math and the Rhyming Mega Bundle from the new Educents Preschool Rocks Bundle in exchange for free access to these portions of the product. Details for purchase of this product are listed at the end of the review. 

These products come via download. The bundles were quick and easy to access as well as to print. This type of resource is highly valuable not only to homeschool parents who do not need an entire class set of the items, but also to teachers who may receive a new student at any time. You never have to worry about wasting money on too many items nor about not having enough of the resource should a new student arrive. I also want to mention that though these items are meant to be printed in color, you can use black and white settings for some of the activities that are not color or pattern related.

Preschool Math by Cynthia Dunn includes activities and games such as Color Pattern Fun, Color Match Game, Butterfly Counting Mats, and Find the Missing Number. My three year old son and I began our exploration of these materials by playing with the number mats from Preschool Math. The mats were small enough that we could put several in front of him without overwhelming him. He enjoyed not only counting, but also putting the pieces of paper on each mat. We compared numbers, counted, added, and subtracted using these mats. As we continued through the Preschool math bundle, I noticed that most of the activities could be used multiple ways. This is a fabulous tool for teachers who have students who are learning at different levels. You can easily scaffold the lessons so they meet each learner’s needs.

The Rhyming Mega Bundle by Random Craftiness also has several activities for varied academic levels. This bundle includes puzzles, a board game, rhyming writing practice, word cards, go fish, memory, and more. My son enjoyed rhyming bingo the best; however, we began with a review of rhyming words by using Activity #12 Matching Worksheet. My son enjoyed the one on one time with me and I was able to hear him pronounce various words and also rhyme. This is a great way to screen for speech issues that may require extra help. This is also a great way to assess a child’s knowledge of rhyming and final sounds.

I found these bundles to be fun and useful.  All of the activities are colorful and easy to use as large group, small group, or individual activities. The directions were clear and easy for a volunteer, intern, or even an older buddy tutor to use. The focus for each activity was developmentally appropriate and fits a wide range of children’s abilities and needs. 

After working in public schools for many years, I now know the importance of reusing resources.  When I taught a large amount of students, I reused resources when possible. I either laminated the activities or used page protectors. This way any clipping, writing, drawing, or spills could be removed easily yet not ruin the papers. I also used magnets and cheap cookie sheets from the dollar store to create magnetic games and activities out of similar resources. This added variation from the typical school day while still encouraging acquisition of new skills.

Cooperative play helps children to internalize subject matter. As a parent and teacher, I love to see children enjoy learning. These products achieve both goals. It is absolutely possible to use teacher observation to find out if a student knows a topic. If the child can explain the rules to another child, then play the game with little or no mistakes, he or she has a firm grasp on the subject matter. This eliminates the need for boring or tedious paper and pencil assessments.

After using the two activities and game packets supplied to me by Educents, I think my child and I will enjoy using the rest of the Preschool Rocks Bundle Pack. I plan to tell my friends who still teach in early childhood education settings as well as my homeschool friends about this product. I look forward to seeing the entire pack soon!

Information on the Bundle:
19 Downloadable Products
Regular Price: $106.00
Educents Price: $29.99
Percent Off: 71% 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Another SPD Realization

Many moons ago I realized that my youngest child, my son, does not feel most pain. For several years it seemed that he only felt pain in his gut or face. He would bang his head for fun or because he was upset and cause huge welts. We eventually had to put blankets or pillows everywhere and sometimes restrain him because he did not feel the pain which is the warning sign in typical people that tells them to stop a behavior that can cause damage.

Fast forward a bit. We have been through horrible behavior issues, sleeplessness, selective mutism at times, sensory processing disorder, hours of screaming for no apparent reason, self harm, doctors whose only advice was to change diet or get a helmet, and more. Eventually we gave up on any doctor listening or helping and settled into modeling proper choices, talking a lot, using patience, etc. Some of the issues got better a little bit at a time. Some did not.

Fast forward a bit more. My son went through a very violent and confusing time last fall. He began hurting others even though his self harm was lessening. He became less talkative and gave less clues to indicate what his triggers were. I was at a loss. I considered autism testing. Before going that route, I decided to double check that we had done everything else possible to be sure his environment was not, in part or as a whole, causing the new issues.

We chose a highly recommended naturopathic doctor who went to medical school before choosing naturopathy as a specialty. She was very understanding of my concerns and patient with my son's behavior in the office. (He was a mix of hyper and calm depending on the moment. It was a mess! He was beside himself.) The ND asked me to consider fecal tests because they are non-invasive and have a somewhat inexpensive out of pocket cost. When the results came back we found several signs of damage to his intestines and other organs which affect gut health which in turn may affects mood, pain versus no pain, and behavior.

I am thankful that we now have a nutritionally sound treatment plan to help my son, but there is something that still bothers me. A few nights ago, he woke up screaming. I took him to the bathroom to use the toilet. He used it, but then screamed for a half hour while grabbing his abdomen. At that moment I realized that his gut pain and face pain may have been extreme pain. He is probably not more sensitive in the abdomen and face, but had extreme pain there more often than in other body parts. I then thought back to a few weeks before when he fell at the park and needed stitches on his forehead. He cried because of the blood, he told me, not the pain. He didn't feel the pain according to his account of the situation. When my middle child hit her head and needed a staple, she was sensitive at the wound site for months. My son did not worry one bit with the stitches or the site of the stitches. He said they did not hurt and now that they are mostly healed he still doesn't worry with them. (He did not like the bandage being changed because it pulled his skin a bit, though.) All of this leads me to believe that he is not overly sensitive in his face and abdomen, but was feeling extreme pain in those places when he had behavior issues as a young child.

The good news is that with continued vigilance with regard to his diet, SPD, and allergens plus the medicines his ND suggested, he is on the mend and has fewer rough days or times. The bad news is that we waited a lot longer than necessary to heal his body because we thought his issues were mostly neurological and focused on the SPD, not mostly diet based and neurological. Truth be told, he still has a great many issues with social and emotional behaviors, but with the changes we made he is able to focus more on his choices and either deal with or avoid his triggers. At this time he is working his way back from the regression last fall. Sure, there may be further testing down the road, but at least we have a better idea of where to begin this time around.

There are several morals to the story.  Always question, always looks for more information, and always double check. Shed that mommy guilt because we do what we can when we can. We do better when we see a better way.