Monday, July 24, 2017

Zoey & Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows!

This post contains Amazon Associate links for you convenience. 
Have you tapped into the Zoey and Sassafras book series yet? If you haven't, and have children or students in the K-4th grade age range, you must! Zoey is a little girl that, like her mother, can see magical mystical creatures. They come to the barn in the back of her house and ring a tiny doorbell when they need help. 
 On my way home from Portland last week I read the first book in the series, Dragons and Marshmallows. I absolutely fell in love with this book and can't wait to share it with my students. I think I am going to start reading a chapter with Kenzie (who's 5) before bed each night. Since I loved the book, and knew my students would too, I created a story companion to go along with it.
 I have included a story map, 2 compare and contrast activities, and an Herbivore or Carnivore animal sort. In the story, Zoey had to figure out if one of her sick creatures was an herbivore or carnivore so she knew what to feed it!
 I also included a science journal because Zoey kept notes on her creatures in a journal. Give your students a specific animal to journal about or let them write down observations they see when venturing outside the classroom. I made my journal with brown paper bags and ribbon. It's left pretty open-ended so you can do a lot of different things with this journal. I also made it color paper friendly because I am a huge fan of Astrobrights paper!
This is a super fun book that will definitely keep your students engaged. You can download a FREE copy of my story companion, here! Can't wait to hear what you think of Zoey & Sassafras, too!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Taking the Pressure Out of Trying New Foods!

People always assume that if you are a speech therapist your kids have perfect speech and language. Same with feeding therapy. I often hear, “Oh you must have the best eaters at home!” No. Nope. Not even close. I have to use the same techniques that I use on my clients, on my own children at home. And sometimes, they are more resistant than my clients because, well,  I’m mom. The toughest battle I have to conquer with my kids is getting them to try new foods. Once they try it, they often like it. But just getting them to take a teeny tiny bite of a new food takes a lot of work. 
For my son, it’s usually reverse psychology. "Don't you eat that carrot!"And then he will eat the dang carrot. But for my daughter, it’s a little trickier. She doesn't fall for my tricks anymore. I’ve had to get a little more creative with her to help take the pressure of having to like a new food out of the equation. I never expect her to like everything she tries. And I try to stop using the “Try it, you will like it!” statement because no one likes everything, and that’s ok. 
I created a chart for her that we keep on the refrigerator. On the chart there is a place to write the new food and circle if she liked the food or did not like the food. She doesn’t get rewarded for liking the new food, but for trying it. After trying 4 new foods, she gets rewarded with a treat of her choice. She usually picks donuts or going to pick out something from Target's Dollar Spot (gosh, she's just like her mother) You guys, this has worked so well. The pressure to like the new food is gone. AND there are now a handful of new foods I have been able to add into our rotation (even broccoli!!) which is a celebration of its own. 

This is a great little chart to use with your feeding clients or your own children at home. 
You can download a free copy for yourself here :) I'd love to hear what you think of this or any tricks you have up your sleeve!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Why You Should Travel with Your Littles!

Traveling with your little ones can be stressful. Packing, planning, organizing... so much is involved when your kids are young. I recently read an article about traveling with your children and why you should do it as often as possible. It hit home for me because with Kenzie(my first born) I was so hesitant to take her anywhere. I avoided restaurants, grocery stores... any public place, really. I was so fearful of being that woman, panicking in the store with a screaming infant. I envied my friends that took their young children on vacation. I so badly wanted to get out and do things but let my fear get in the way. I was more worried about ruining other's experiences out with my potentially fussy child than making memories with my family. However, things changed after having baby number 2. We didn't avoid places with him, he had to tag along. I feel like he was a better baby because he was much more adjusted to life on the go.
Now I can honestly say I look forward to taking the kids places. Don't get me wrong, it still takes a lot of planning and prep time (especially making sure I remember lots of snacks!) But we are no longer missing out. The experiences they get are incredibly language enriching. Seeing new sights, experiencing new things, and learning new words. It doesn't have to be extravagant trips. Go to the zoo, the beach, local children's museum, even the grocery store. There are learning experiences all around us. These experiences help increase vocabulary as they learn new words and social skills as they meet new people and learn how we interact with new people. 
Meeting the pilots!
When you're out, talk to your kids about what you see. Ask them questions. Let them bring along a notebook and draw pictures of what they see. Later, have them retell you the events of the day and what their favorite part was. You will be amazed with how much they soaked in that day and what trivial details to us were the highlights of their day. 
Visiting the rose garden at Peninsula Park
I just got back from Portland, OR with my daughter. We went out there to see my sister's new baby, who came pretty close to giving me baby fever. Kenzie got to experience her first flight (and learn what a cockpit was!), view mountains and volcanoes from Portland's tallest building, run through a rose garden... all things she had never done before.  At school, when her teacher references to mountains, she will now have a real life event to reference to... which is not something we get living in Florida. And on top of it all, these experiences are memories she will always remember!
Chowing down on some VooDoo Doughnuts!