Making Games Work For Kids Of All Ages And Needs

Still working out a modified version of Star Wars chess...

Still working out a modified version of Star Wars chess…

Check out some of the ways we sneak learning into game time, as originally seen on childmind.org. Follow up article with more modified games coming soon!

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The Chicken Adventure, Part 3: Two Birds With One Stone…. aka Chicken Therapy

wpid-wp-1435724053497.jpegMy 4 year old son has Aspergers, and let’s just say that despite our best efforts his social calendar mainly involves his siblings so far. His sometimes incessant ramblings about math, Minecraft, and National Geographic combined with a tendency to tantrum if “the rules” are not followed leave his preschool peers alarmed, confused, annoyed or a combination of all three.

Despite my certainty that Adam is destined for greatness someday, I do sometimes worry that he will be lonely, which is why his enthusiasm for our pet chickens came as a delightful surprise. But what has been even better is our chickens’ enthusiasm for Adam. Continue reading

The Chicken Adventure, Part 2: Fred, Hank and Fluffy

wpid-wp-1429761219114.jpegThe kids had done their research, so as we headed out to get our long-awaited chicks from SeaBreeze Hens there was some bickering about whether Black Australorps or Americuana chicks would be the best, based on the virtues of “being too big for a hawk to eat it” versus “laying blue and green eggs.” We picked up a sack of chicken nuggets to commemorate the occasion (and to prevent hanger) and arrived just in time to feed some baby goats. Did I mention my kids love Seabreeze Hens? Continue reading

Sanity Saver #1: Dictionary Pictionary

wpid-wp-1428882531655.jpegSanity Savers are for those times when you’re:

1) trying to do something with one of your kids and another kid has finished their work already and keeps saying, “Mom, I’m done,” “Did I earn a screen yet?” “I’m bored,” “Can you make me a snack?”

2) cooking dinner and everybody is freaking out.

3) putting the baby down for a nap while your other children are arguing loudly over whether your eyes change color if you press them both with your index fingers or if they stay brown from blinking. What.

4) on the phone and everyone is suddenly talking to you, urgently.

5) trying to take a shower.

6) any combination of 1-5.

When I shout “Go do Dictionary Pictionary,” which I have literally done in every one of the above scenarios, my older children respond to this by retrieving their notebooks and the dictionary, and leaving me alone for about 15-20 minutes (and sometimes huffing or rolling their eyes, because let’s be real here, a dictionary is not a snack). Continue reading

The Chicken Adventure, Part 1: Easter Eggers, Australorps and Hen Saddles? Oh My

wpid-wp-1425731718242.jpegAs many of you know by now, I’m not one to sit idly on the sidelines, no matter how displaced I may feel (or actually be). And we all know there’s no better way to get over missing city life than by totally distracting yourself with a chicken coop and half a dozen baby chicks.

Ahem.

mean, I have carefully evaluated many options for our pet-desperate children, and have come to the determination that chickens are the lowest maintenance/ highest return pet we can handle right now.

For those of you back in NYC who think I’ve totally lost it, let me remind you that we already have a bajillion other birds in our backyard – birds that are busy mucking up our property, making nests all over the place, not being pets to my kids, not laying eggs we can actually eat and not looking particularly pretty. Seriously, have you seen a Muscovy Duck? So I figured, what the heck? Not only can I come up with about one hundred educational components to this homeschooling adventure, but I’m also getting some serious perks pre-chicken.

wpid-wp-1423335328258.jpegwpid-wp-1423729667622.jpegSee, my kids agreed to earn the money to pay for the chickens if we allowed them to have them, and three months later they’re still working hard to earn every last penny. Vacuuming the car out? 50 cents. Dragging the garbage cans back from the curb? 25 cents per can. 50 cents to empty the dishwasher, 25 to put away their laundry. A penny per toy put away – they fight over cleaning up duplos now! And an entire $1 if they sleep through the night without waking us up (a dollar might seem steep, but let me tell you that it is worth every penny). They are happily doing chores, learning about counting and saving money, and happily doing chores! I already love these chickens!

Naturally, being the amazing, slightly OCD homeschooling mother that I am, I immediately started reading up on chickens, chicken coops, and animals that eat chickens and probably live in my backyard. So if you are now considering getting chickens of your own, here’s what I can share so far: Continue reading

The WH Game

wpid-wp-1426820042663.jpegIs your family into games? Or, are they not that into games but you wish they were? Either way, I’m going to tell you about one of the simplest yet most successful games we’ve ever played (and still play several times per week). When I ask “who wants to play the WH game?” as it is so fondly called in our house, the reply is a shrieking stampede for the living room. As some of you might know from my article on childmind.org, I’m a fan of making up the rules as I go along, and the WH game was born in similar fashion.

I originally created the WH game for two reasons: 1) to help my 4 and 5 year old recognize WH words more fluently when reading, and 2) as a compact activity that traveled easily into waiting rooms, long lines and the minivan. What started as six index cards with “who, what, where, when, why and how” written on each has transformed into hundreds of index cards with anything from “how many minutes are in an hour?” to “The endermen were coming to get him” (for the Minecraft-obsessed in our house). But before I make this sound more complicated than it is, let me lay out the basics for you.

Age: Pre-K and older Continue reading