Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Gaston Party

My son is OBSESSED with Gaston from the Beauty and the Beast movie! He is convinced that Gaston is the strongest guy ever, and wants to be strong too. So we did a Gaston themed party for his 4th birthday! He even had a Gaston costume!

The invitations were fun, I loved the "It's Your Lucky Day!" introduction!

For decorations, we did red/ yellow balloons and streamers, and had a Gaston plush doll that my little guy got for Christmas, and a play Beauty and the Beast action figure set out.

My super crafty mom also made paper deer head antlers, as you can see behind mini-Gaston here, who decided it was his party, and he would cry if he wanted to.

We did Gaston coloring books! I just looked up "Beauty and the Beast Gaston coloring page" on google, and put in 5 black/ white pictures of Gaston. The most popular picture was one of Gaston when he fell in the mud! On the front of each book, I put "My Gaston Coloring Book" with the name of each child to reduce fighting over whose was whose.

We played Kill the Beast while that song played in the background (we had the Broadway soundtrack playing the whole party). I had the kids shoot a picture of the Beast (We used a silly one of him slipping on ice) with a bow and arrow. It was VERY popular!

We did a Gaston Face Cut-Out, and had the kids take pictures with the Gaston, or as Gaston. That was super fun, and was for sure the thing that took the most time to prepare, since we had to blow up an image, trace it, then color/ paint it!
You can barely see the pencil outline
Me with the sharpie-colored Gaston

Then painted after hours of work!

We also played Ring Toss with inflatable antlers because Gaston uses "antlers in all of [his] decorating". This came from our Christmas bin, but the kids didn't care. Antlers are antlers.

For the food, we had 4 dozen deviled eggs (obviously!), and had chicken drumsticks, and a Gaston cake! Instead of ice cream, we did root beer floats. I considered using mugs, but decided that might give a bad impression to little 4 year olds...
Of course my son wanted to eat Gaston's face...

We did a parachute, which was super fun and not related to Gaston, but the kids LOVED it! We lots of different games, made a tent, kicked it while the adults shook it, jumped in the middle when your name is called...

The parents and kids said that it was a super fun party, and my mini-Gaston said it was the best day of his life, so I guess it was a win!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Best Therapy Toys

Ask any special needs parent, and every Christmas/ birthday revolves around the question, "What is the best toy I can get for my child that can also double as therapy helps?"

Here are the toys that I have loved most of all that help lots with Chelsea's progress:

Usually I take Chelsea to the park almost every day, but on days when I am feeling sick, or when there is inclement weather, we pull out gross motor toys! Indoor trampoline, squeaky hopper, hoppy ball, teeter popper, and sensory tunnel.

Her favorite is the sensory tunnel! I got instructions for that here. I'm no seamstress, so I swapped my friend making it for a carrot cake, which I am good at making! Barter is the best!

Whatever your kid is into- get some little action figures of! Dinosaurs, ninja turtles, sesame street, whatever! Chelsea LOVES her princess castle and plays with it just about every single day! Super good for imagination and role playing (Have the princesses bake cookies/ go to the park/ get on the bus)

When we do therapy, we use the princesses very often (for speech, say "Tiana go potty" or "Belle go up"), and their names were the first words she learned how to read!

All sorts of books here- easy picture books (Gerald and Piggie, Dr. Seuss, etc), lengthier fairy tales, early readers, anything! Just read, read, read 30+ minutes a day!

We have several sensory bins, but the favorite is the kinetic sand! We use little digging tools, shovels, pails, and I make the kids use it on the porch, because it gets EVERYWHERE!!!

We have also used dry rice, beans, and water. I really want to make a water beads one, but it is still a work in progress. Word of warning though- DO NOT use sticky foam beads!!! They are the devil and will make you want to die after one use! They get EVERYWHERE and are impossible to clean! 

But it is so fun to mix in things- toys, sight words, magnetic things, items for a theme... And then use those things to do speech "Wow, a ____" or "Look at this!"  

Cardboard blocks, magnetic tiles, Legos, Lincoln logs, generic wooden blocks, railroad tracks... The big-time winner at our house is the magnetic tiles. Pricey, but WOW I have never seen Chelsea so engaged in building things before!

Since the tiles are magnetic, they snap together pretty easily, and that makes Chelsea feel VERY successful and then she is willing to continue! She and her brother share them, which is another huge bonus!
Cardboard blocks!

When we go out, it is always nice to have an activity/ toy that is easily transportable and educational, so I made a bunch of busy bags! I made my first batch over the summer, and the second batch in the fall. I keep them in a box and just grab a few to toss in the kids' backpacks on the way out the door.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Teaching Reading

I had been working on Chelsea-chosen words for reading, but then decided to try some of the Kindergarten sight words. So, being the obsessive list-maker that I am, I made a plan- to teach Chelsea 25 new sight words every two months. It is a challenging, but still reasonable, goal for her. We work 10-20 minutes a day of strictly learning/ reviewing sight words.

The words I started with are:
  • See
  • Me
  • So
  • Do
  • To
  • Am
  • It
  • At
  • He

  • The
  • Up
  • You
  • On
  • Like
  • I
  • No
  • Can
  • We
  • A
  • Go
  • An
  • My
  • In
  • Is
  • And

Most of these words have little to no meaning for Chelsea, so I made up sentences for her to read, using the words she already learned that are motivating for her combined with new sight words:

1. Ariel is a girl like me
2. I like Cinderella
3. Mommy and Daddy like me
4. Tiana and Ariel are my friends
5. You are so nice
6. We go up the stairs
7. Do you see Snow White?
8. Sleeping Beauty is on my bed
9. I like Jasmine and Belle
10. I can go see Rapunzel
11. I can go to Grandma's house
12. I see an animal
13. Dopey is a dwarf
14. I can do anything
15. Can Chelsea do it?
16. He is on the table. No! No!
17. Gaston is in my house
18. I am at Grandma's house

The other thing I do is send little notes in Chelsea's lunchbox/ snack bag. They aren't ever very long, but use words to help her practice her reading, and her aide/ teacher helps her read them. They would say things like:

1. I like you! I love you! You are a happy girl
2. Do you like your blue dress? I like your blue dress! (and have the blue dress drawn under)
3. Chelsea is a girl! Chelsea is a nice girl! Mommy loves Chelsea

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What I Love About SATB2

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought about some of the things that I love about Chelsea, and how I can show her that I love her.

1. I LOVE that she is such a sweet, happy girl! SATB2 kids seem to be some of the most cheerful, content babies. I figure if she can be happy even with the frustration that must come from not being able to communicate, I can be happy when I am around her.

2. We have gained a very close group of friends! Even if we don't speak the same language (THANK YOU, google translate!), or live in the same country, we all love our SATB2 kids, and chat daily about their triumphs and struggles. Chelsea has much more support out there now, and I will spread the word so that other kids get that same opportunity!

3. Chelsea NEVER gives up! You would think she would, since everything is SO difficult for her, but instead she just doggedly keeps on persevering! If she won't give up, neither will I, so if I need to take a sign language class, or attend a special needs law workshop, or do therapy at home, Chelsea is worth it!

4. She makes every accomplishment seem like a mountain conquered! I have gained such incredible perspective! I remember during potty training (after about 7 months!), she would pull down her underwear, then poop on the floor, then pick it up (*gag*), put it in the potty, and then come show me her hands. For her, that is a MASSIVE accomplishment- realizing that she shouldn't go in her underwear! You never know how big a step is until you have seen the bottom! I will cheer her on every step of the way!