"That's a first!"

"That's a first!" is always a great comment to hear from a mom.

A student that doesn't talk very much made a spontaneous request, "I want the iPad. I want to read Toy Story." We were excited at this. And even more, he read the first page of it just for fun - just for himself.

It's great to see the work he's been doing in reading is carrying over in doing it a little just for fun!

All kids learn differently

One hour: A kid and I were bouncing off the walls, delving deep into imaginary lands, and reading secret codes to unlock the door to the caves that had some ancient addition on the walls which led to the treasure of green apple scented bubbles.

The next hour: a kid and I sat at a desk working on answering critical thinking questions about a story and spent our breaks talking about movies.

All in a day's work.
All kids learn differently.

5 Educational Game Ideas for Easter Baskets


Who needs more chocolate bunnies that get their ears bitten off and the rest of them wrapped up and shoved away - only to be found next summer when you reach under the bed? Maybe this Easter you add a few, small games to that basket that will help you have some quality time together, practice your little one's reading and math, and won't turn into a pile of chocolatey mush. 


1. Pairs in Pears

You've probably heard of Bananagrams, but have you played Pairs in Pears? There are a few ways to play this game, but the main rule is that you need to find pairs of words that share a letter. With my students, we focus on the vowel sounds and finding a pair of words that share the same vowel. This game can easily be adapted to any skill level from learning letters on up, and the recommended ages are 2 to 9 years.  


2. Math Room

Math Room is a SimplyFun game for ages 5 and up that practices adding and subtracting as you fill up the windows to your character's house. I bet Tibbar the Bunny's house will be a coveted card on Easter! This game is designed to only take 15-20 minutes: perfect for a little math practice and for little attention spans!


3. Jumpstart Reading for First Graders

Jumpstart Reading for First Graders is a computer game that gets requested a lot from beginning readers. For ages 5-7, they can help Frankie the dog play reading and spelling games to save the circus. Jungle bowl (where a monkey tries to eat your bowling coconut as you spell) and Batter Splatter (where you get to throw cake batter at the person's face holding the correct word) are the best parts of this game! It's great practice for reading 3 to 5 letter words, there are 3 levels of difficulty to adjust, and the game is well structured with completing  tasks to earn tickets and puzzle pieces. It hooks my students and has them asking "Can I play Frankie today?" when they come for their next lesson.


4. Flash Cards (that can be FUN!)

Okay, I know... Quit with the eye rolls. Flash cards are boring when you are just doing drills with them. I beg of you, don't just use them for this evil. Use them for good... Play a game of war like you do with playing cards, play tic tac toe, take your favorite board game (Battleship? Candyland? Clue? Twister?) and solve a flashcard before each turn, get outside and solve between turns at Horse at basketball, have your child dream up a game and you can find a way to add flashcards into the game... the options are only limited to the imagination. 


5. The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

A bedtime story that claims to save you from the stress of bedtime chaos and help your 3 to 7 year old actually relax and go to sleep?! Does it work? I don't know. But I know some moms who would be willing to try anything to make bedtime go smoother.  And even if it this rabbit fails to get your little one to sleep, then you will still get a story to add to your collection that you read together starring an Easter favorite, a rabbit.



Bonus: Simply Caring Tibbar

And who better to dive into these reading and math activities with than an adorable, huggable  bunny?  You'll also be helping a child in need when you buy a Simply Caring Tibbar from SimplyFun. $10 of your $20 for each Tibbar sold goes to My Stuff Bags Foundation that helps children in America rescued from abuse and neglect by providing bags stuffed with toiletries, blankets, and age-matched items to bring them comfort.


This year, I hope your Easter baskets bring you a little less chocolate mush and a little more fun and learning!


Conversations & Connection

One of my students often greets me by saying "Junk food!" when he walks in the door before he even says hello. Why? Because that was a topic and conversation we first connected over and laughed over when becoming friends. And he wants to keep connecting with me.

A 24-year-old man with autism that I've known since he was a kid, calls me on the phone from time to time and he will most likely bring up a few of the same conversations that we have been having since he was 9. The pattern and repetition of the conversations may seem odd to an outsider, but it is just our style of reminiscing.

This video from Special Books by Special Kids is a great reminder that there are many things to connect over besides our common small talk and that sometimes those repeated conversations really mean something more.

Human Nature

My friend is diagnosed with autism. Today I was baffled by his behavior.After taking a moment to contemplate human nature and my own tendencies it all made sense. It's time to provide everybody with the acceptance they deserve.

Posted by Special Books by Special Kids on Monday, February 22, 2016

Playing Teacher: A Great Confidence Booster

A great confidence booster: Let them play the teacher and you play the student. Have them teach it back to you.

This student was worried that she still didn't know her x6, x7, and x8 multiplication facts and that she wouldn't be able to do them in class with another teacher that didn't know the strategies we've worked on.

I was confident that she knew them, but she wasn't confident yet. It wasn't until I had her be the teacher and teach them back to me (which she did flawlessly), that she could see that she was the one who knew the strategies. She was the one with the knowledge. She was the one with the power to use it whenever she needed it. She didn't need a teacher or a parent or a calculator. She was able to self-check and be confident in her answers.

I just love helping students figure that out!