Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Social Stories to help children who need a little extra guidance.

When we first learned about Social Stories to be used as a tool for children on the Autism Spectrum I wondered if:

1.  They would work.

2.  I could get the gist of it. 


3.  If I could "get it right" if I tried to make one (would my stick figures convey the story?).

In time I realised that:

1.  They do work for some children  in some situations, but you will only know if they work by trying them!

2.  I got the hang of it by actually doing it, and with some guidance from a lady who was helping us.

3.  I did "get it right" just enough for us.  I had to put aside feelings of "making it perfect" or "looking like the one in the book". 


4.  I believe that many children, not just those on the Autism spectrum could benefit from Social Stories if they seem to be "stuck" on a certain behaviour or in a certain situation.

I think the easiest way to explain what a Social Story is might be to give you an example of  something we wanted to try to change in one of our children, and then tell you what the story went like.

First up - I just used photocopy paper - four sheets, with a short amount of handwritten information at the top of each page, and then a large drawing underneath (stick figures). 

This is the story I wrote for him, and we read it often. He liked that it was a story about himself, and he often brought me the Clearfile with the story in so we could read it again and again.

The situation was:  One of our boys loved going to the ReUse shop, he really liked the man and lady who worked there, but his anxiety stopped him from speaking to them, or even answering when they spoke to him.

I will call this child X to protect his identity   :)    

When we go to the ReUse shop X loves to look at the tools and old toys.    Mr and Mrs P work at the ReUse shop, and they like X very much.
Here we have set the scene, and laid out the "characters"

When Mr and Mrs P say hello to X sometimes it makes X feel tight inside, and he doesn't know what to say.
After discussion with the child about when the problem comes up and how he feels, we write it in to the story.

X wants to say hello to Mr and Mrs P because he likes them very much, so he will try to say "Hello!"  He doesn't have to look at them.  If he can't manage to say "Hello" he might smile at them.
Here we explain what is "required" - i.e., what the child would like to achieve.  And an alternative if going the whole hog (saying "Hello") becomes too much.  It is important to use words like "he will try to say"

If X can say "Hello" to Mr and Mrs P, or smile at them, it will make them very happy, and they will know that X likes them.  X will feel very happy too!
We end the Social Story laying out how people might feel, and the benefit to the child if the change takes place.

I am not sure how far away I wandered from the original Social Stories path with the way I am doing it, but it seems to work.

So to recap -  the story is in about four parts:

1.  Sets the scene
2.  Tells the problem
3.  Gives a specific way that they may be able to achieve the goal
4.  Specifically tells a child how people may feel or what the result could be (don't promise anything! or set a child up to feel they have failed).

A Social Story might also be useful for a child who is hurting others' feelings, but has no idea that other people are feeling sad.   Or a child who wants to join in with other people, but tends to try and get themselves involved in an inappropriate way (which can often be typical of children with Asperger's Syndrome).

Check out Carol Gray's website, or any other information on Social Stories to get a better idea if you think it might help a child you love.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fun and easy game

Who else saves toilet rolls "just in case"?

I was glad to have a wee stash when I saw this idea.  

So, as soon as I found a suitable cardboard box (compliments of our local fruit and vege shop) we made this lovely game.  

Using a large marble we had lots of fun.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Being Frugal and Having Purposeful Direction with "Stuff"

People often wonder what the best hints are for frugal home education/natural learning. 

I could say an AWFUL lot on this subject  ;o)  , but my best advice is to be satisfied and content with what you have, and model/teach your children to be content and satisfied too.

BUT as a home educating parent it is still our responsibility to facilitate learning and provide resources.   Teach yourself to open your eyes to exciting and wonderful ways to use what you have, and the things that come along cheaply or free.

For example - for small children if you find some little baskets, or lovely wooden bowls in the op-shop (or re-use shop) for say $1 each - that would be a sensible purchase.

Make sure they are not junky horrible bowls or baskets, and ensure that they are a pleasing shape and size.

Next time you are at the beach have the children collect shells or some lovely rounded stones etc. The children can wash them when they get home (make sure none of the shells have little creatures living in them!) then put them baskets to be played with carefully.

This idea can be used for seed pods, autumn leaves, acorns - all sorts of lovely natural (FREE!) goodies that are so much nicer to play with than over-priced expensive plastic faddish junk.

I have lists of "Things To Collect" in my Adventures In Natural Learning Handbook - one list for birth to approximately age 2, and another for children over 2 years old.   

The best way to start a collection like this is to read through the list and mark the items you'd really love to have.  Keep an eye out for them, or something like them when a bargain comes along.  You can also request things from the lists when people ask about birthday presents.  

These lists can give a family a good direction to go in to prevent clutter and rubbish and faddish toys that the children lose interest in, but have to be stored away annoyingly because a child has become attached to it!

I think many experienced home educators will have ideas on items they have purchased thinking they would be really good - but they have ended up being a waste of money/space and time.   Hopefully my lists will give some direction to those who are starting out/want to clear the decks and start again.



Smelly Bellies and Other Interesting Collections

Some children are REALLY drawn to having collections.

I know that many parents despair when a collection is of LARGE items or expensive things.

Our younger boys are VERY GRATEFUL that our oldest started collecting Action Man figures and bits and pieces when he was younger - all Op-Shop and market stall finds.  A pair of trousers here, a handful of weapons there, a boot here, a vehicle there, the swimming guy, the mountain climbing guy ...  He now has four boxes full of Action Man stuff that the younger ones are allowed to play with from time to time.   

Another collection our oldest started about 10 years ago is a swag of these delightful fellows:

Smelly Bellies were around when he was very little - but they were too expensive to buy - and I was annoyed by the fact that the marketing gimmick was that each Smelly Belly came in an egg - you never knew which Smelly Belly was inside the egg.  Not nice!

But, fast forward 10 years later and Smelly Bellies started to appear in the bottom of toy boxes at the Op-Shops!

Some were 10 cents, or 20 cents, some were 50 cents.

I remember one very exciting haul - we found handfuls of them at the ReUse shop, I think we paid a couple of dollars for those.

We rarely see them now, so I'm glad our son made his collection when he did.

What sort of collections do your children have?

Four colour game

Three of us started playing this game.   I tried to get the fourth child interested, but he didn't want to know (we had never played it before, and he prefers to watch and see what everyone is doing before he tries something - I respect that).

However, by the time we were half-way through the fourth child had become very interested, and I asked him if he'd finish mine off because I had to go and do something ... er ... very important.

He really enjoyed himself too!

This is the way we played the game:

First I printed out some easy-to-colour cartoony pictures of people.  You can use anything you like.

Each player has 4 random colours to work with (actually I chose the colours carefully).  We used marker pens, but you could use crayons, pencils etc.

You must colour the picture just using those 4 colours.

When the first picture is done your set of 4 colours gets moved to the person on your right, and you get a new set of 4 colours from the person on your left.

And so on.

It's really interesting to see how other people colour the same image with different colours.

The viking below was coloured by my 14 year old who is VERY good at shading and mixing colours!


Non-Toy Playthings

Walking through our local market I saw this ... er ... woody cagey thing.   I *think* it is a fruit bowl ... not sure.

I knew the children would enjoy it for something, and it was only a couple of dollars, so I bought it.

It's been a hat, a "potty" (pretend thankfully), a car container and this game I came up with for the children who love scarves. 

My husband looked at me with a smile when our little guy kept walking around with his "hat" under his arm.

Keep an eye out for bargains that can be used in lots of different ways.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Photo Shoot

Just sharing some fun we had this afternoon doing a photo shoot for the books.

 This beautiful little black fantail decided to join us.

This is what happened when I asked my darling 9 year old to hold my shirt and glasses!


 Resting for a minute, having a read through my Handbook with the cover boy (whose hair has grown and got a lot blonder since the cover photo was taken!).

Deep discussions with Mummy. xxx

Looking at the photos in the Journal.


Having a run on the hill.

 My new promo shot.    

Many thanks to my wonderful daughter Esther, who patiently struggled with the camera that needs fixing  xxxxx