I always keep a tub of dried beans around for sensory play. Goldie and my second daughter are the ones who love to play in them the most.
I decided to change it up for fall. There was a 4 lb bag of popcorn sitting in my pantry for the last 18 months, so I switched beans for popcorn. We've been hiding farm animals in it, but you could also use acorns or small pine cones.
Goldie is doing well with pouring, so I added these small bottles to give her more of a challenge. FYI: She only plays with these on our enclosed porch where her baby brother is never allowed.
Goldie wasn't very impressed. I think it was hard for her to see into the pumpkin and it didn't give her enough room to really play with them. I'm going to put them in plastic tub, unless she like my next idea.
That was to make and eye-spy container. I took a large plastic container that used to have almonds in it. Have I mentioned how much Goldie loves almonds? I had to start buying them at Sam's Club. I put the beans, bugs and some other toys in it. This will allow both Goldie and Hank to play, since the beans are safely inside.
If you have any great ideas, please share them. Once fall is over, we have a long winter ahead of us. Its always good to have a few tricks up my sleeve.
This post is full of gender stereotypes. As a mother of girls and now a boy, I gave up long ago on staying gender neutral when it comes to toys. You see, they know from birth that they are boys or girls. I gave my oldest a toy drill and she used it as a hair dryer. Hank loves to flip the baby doll stroller over and play with the wheels. Of course, I do have my limits. Our house is a Barbie and Bratz free zone.
About three years ago, my daughters begged me to buy them Snap 'n Style dolls. I resisted as long as I could because we already had Madeline, her friends, babies, and American Girl dolls. But, Grandma bought some and I eventually caved. I really thought they were too babyish. So, they've sat in the basement until this summer. Goldie and the neighbor girl, she's 8, play with them everyday. I love this toy because Goldie doesn't need any help. She can just be one of the girls, enjoying her dolls. The clothes snap onto the front of the dolls with one finger, or several fingers if you happen to have some low muscle tone. The hat and shoes are hard for her to put on, but she doesn't seem to care and it gives her a challenge.
Now, I'm not a huge princess fan, but when I saw this styling kit at my sister-in-law's house, I knew Goldie had to have one. It has a flat iron and a curling iron. The flat iron works like tongs, which the OT has been using to help Goldie develop pre-scissor skills. The curling iron is similar, but you only need to use your thumb to open it. After a couple months of play, Goldie can use the flat iron. She's only doing straight hairstyles, for now! I picked it up at Wal-mart for around $15. I think. I'm sure it was under $20, so don't buy it from Amazon for $35!
Goldie has met some little milestones, some call these inchstones, that I need to document before I forget the details. She is 3 1/2 and moving full steam ahead toward 4!
- Goldie can dress and undress herself, even in her brother's clothes. She mastered this skill completely on her own, all I did was leave baskets of laundry around for her to practice. BTW, she can also fold washcloths, handtowels, and diapers.
- Last night, upon noticing that her sisters were dressed for bed, she walked upstairs, got her pajama top and matching bottoms out of her drawer, came back down and threw them at me.
- At dinner, she served everyone salad, with tongs. Weeks of climbing on the table to get second helpings has finally paid off.
- At Children's Hour, they ran out of tiny plastic cups for snack time. So the kids had to drink out of regular styrofoam cups. I just knew that Goldie would need help. She told me to go away and drank two servings of apple juice without spilling or choking!
- Before snack, they had a visit from the fire department. When they asked for a volunteer to demonstrate "stop, drop, and roll" Goldie walked up to the front of the group, dropped to the ground and rolled. She was saying roll the whole time, then she stood up and clapped for herself. All the volunteer fire fighters knew her name before they went home. ;)
- Wishes do come true, I have another little girl who loves Madeline. My oldest was all about Madeline, so I've been saving all the dolls and books hoping they would get some more love.
- When I was reading "line", as Goldie calls her new favorite story, I stopped several times (leaving off the last word) and she was able to complete the rhyme! Another first!
- Goldie is really into learning her colors. She loves to sign and say them. She can sort red, blue, yellow, and green.
I've mentioned before that we are not sending Goldie to preschool this year. So, you may be wondering "What does she do?"
I decided to sign her up for a program at a local church called Children's Hour. Goldie goes once a week for 2 hours. My neighbor is her teacher and I'm the permanent helper in her class. It is an all volunteer program that one of my other children attended for two years. No one has any type of education background, let alone any special ed experience. My mom, who has worked in early childhood classrooms as long as I can remember, described it as "developmentally inappropriate." Which is why I love it!
There is no formal instruction or curriculum. No IEPs, no therapists to count how many times she gets something right. Just Goldie and 8 of her peers.
They do have free time with play-do or puzzles, opening songs, weather bear, craft, snack, gym or music, and a bible story.
I expected the first couple of months to be pretty rough. After an awful summer of "Story Time for Children of All Abilities" at the library, I set very low expectations. Sitting still while someone reads to a large group is not one of Goldie's abilities. Yet. I even second guessed my decision to sign her up for a program with only typical children and no adaptations. However, she has been doing great!
My proudest moments are when I see her at snack time, eating and DRINKING from a cup, and holding her hand as she walks down the steps. I had set a goal at the beginning of summer that she would be able to do both of these things by September. Goldie has worked so hard and I love to see the joy on her face when she has her own miniature cup of juice just like all her little friends. Sometimes, after snack is over, she'll sneak over and try to pour herself another drink.
During music, Goldie does all the hand motions that go with the songs or she and I use ASL signs. In the gym she has been able to do all of the activities with no more help than the other children need.
I've been observing how the children relate to each other. There are two boys that come together and I also bring my niece with us. I have yet to see the children really talk to each other and try to form new friendships. The boys stick together and my niece always wants to be near Goldie. Goldie is ready to be friends with anyone, especially the boys. She likes to sit by them and put her hand on their backs. One of them even seems to be looking out for her when she needs help.
The biggest challenge is craft time. The first week wasn't bad, just coloring and some tiny stickers. Then, they moved craft to a room with bins of toys. So, now she wants to ditch the hard fine motor work to go play in the toys. I keep redirecting her back to the craft table and try to give her enough help that it isn't overwhelming to her. At home she has shown a big interest in coloring. I keep a desk with paper, crayons, and markers in the kitchen for her. When they sent home a coloring page I put it on her desk. She sat down on her own and colored each flower yellow. This is the first time she has ever done anything like this! My pile of Goldie's artwork is growing.
At this point, I'm very happy with our decision and the activities we've chosen for Goldie. I think between Speech, OT, Children's Hour and our homeschool field trips, she's got plenty of learning opportunities, but she isn't over scheduled. Which is good for me too!
This is the last in a series of posts comparing the public and private therapy providers we've used since Goldie turned 3. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. This is only the experience of one family living in a fairly rural county in Pennsylvania.
One thing I didn't mention in the previous posts was how these services were paid for. I believe the Early Intervention program receives county, state and federal funds. I'm not completely sure, but there is no cost to use their services. The private speech and OT are billed to our private health insurance through my husband's employer. (We exhausted that coverage a couple months ago.) Then, whatever isn't covered is paid by Medicaid. Goldie qualifies for this because she has a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Another program we utilize is HIPP, Health Insurance Premium Payment. HIPP pays the insurance premium for the employee and the child with the disability if it is more cost effective than adding the child onto one of the state's insurance plans. I've learned this program can work a couple different ways.
1. My husband's current employer deducts the employee portion of a family policy directly from his paycheck. Then, they asked that HIPP send the reimbursement directly to us.
2. His previous employer (where he worked when Goldie was born) continued deducting the employee portion of the health insurance premium, had the reimbursement from HIPP sent directly to themselves, and kept it all.
When I talked to the very nice HR lady about these two scenarios her reply was that "We will pay the same for your family's insurance that we would pay for any of our employees. You are the one's raising Goldie, that money should go to you." You could have knocked me over with a feather. My husband drive too far to work hours that are too long, so it warmed my heart to know that he works for a company that is honest and caring.
Back to my comparison, I've thought about what we would do if Goldie's private therapy wasn't covered. I know that in some states these services wouldn't be covered. Would we give it up? No way! We would find a way to pay for it because it is making a difference in our lives. Even if it meant organizing fundraisers and picking up a part time job.