Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prader-willi syndrome/weight management

(here's a photo of the A~man from 4-H Lego club :)

Just this week the A~man had his annual physical. I was a little nervous about how his weight would do on the charts as I know this last month he has gotten into the pantry more than normal and has gained at least 3 pounds. What I think he does is get into the kitchen during the daytime, at the rare time he is unsupervised  and things are not locked up, and stashes it in his room for when we are all asleep. Also when hubby and I are downstairs in the evenings watching a movie we have caught him in the kitchen when he was supposedly getting up to use the bathroom. At night we have to REALLY check the kitchen to make sure nothing is left out as this last month he grabbed a huge bag of tortillas...and ate them all. (not sure he ate them all at once but he admittedly had a belly ache) In the past something like that wouldn't have been a food he would target so we are learning no food is safe. A lot of people when they observe how we micromanage his food in a restaurant or monitor him around food at a homeschool event really look at us funny as he really is slim looking. In fact at the Drs. office it turned out his BMI was at 75% and before that over the years it has been at 90%.

Fortunately we have very few issues when we go out to eat or go to events with food as he knows we will help him make some good choices. In fact I think him knowing exactly what he will be having, with no chance of talking us into more is comforting to him. No hope of getting more somehow is reassuring to him. He is also better behaved at restaurants than a lot of kids I see. (of course there is the occasional moment)

(I'm stealing this from the PWSA website)

Appetite Disorder

Hypothalamic dysfunction is thought to be the cause of the disordered appetite/satiety function characteristic of PWS. Compulsive eating and obsession with food usually begin before age 6. The urge to eat is physiological and overwhelming; it is difficult to control and requires constant vigilance.

Weight Management Challenge

Compounding the pressure of excessive appetite is a decreased calorie utilization in those with PWS (typically 1,000-1,200 kcal per day for adults), due to low muscle mass and inactivity. A balanced, low-calorie diet with vitamin and calcium supplementation is recommended. Regular weigh-ins and periodic diet review are needed. The best meal and snack plan is one the family or caregiver is able to apply routinely and consistently. Weight control depends on external food restriction and may require locking the kitchen and food storage areas. Daily exercise (at least 30 minutes) also is essential for weight control and health.

To date, no medication or surgical intervention has been found that would eliminate the need for strict dieting and supervision around food. GH treatment, because it increases muscle mass and function, may allow a higher daily calorie level.

A~man hasn't been on growth hormone in a few years but this fall we will be going back to the endocrinologist to see if it might be a good idea to go back on. I hesitate to though, as he is growing tall, (almost 5'4"!) and has really good endurance. We try to walk almost every day with him 3-4 miles. I hope that the habit of walking will be one he takes into adulthood as just something that needs to be done everyday. Most of the time now he does it very willingly.

School is going well for A~man. I think his behaviors have improved since starting back with school work. We tend to be a pretty "spur of the moment" family but the routine we do have in the morning seems to set a good path for his day. (and ours!) Most of his schoolwork in the morning is his online curriculum or online learning games like "sentence match". We are also trying out a really cool online reading program through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine that I will share about soon! Our afternoons lately have been outside. Z~is making a nature book about mushrooms and A~man is making one about trees.  I look forward to our 7th year homeschooling! (well technically it's been 6 and a half years ;)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Christian Liberty Press~Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers~ Review


Annie and Drew travel to England with their mom who is doing research there in a small town, Olney, that is “off the beaten path and old.” Although perfect for their mother’s research, both children are not thrilled with this prospect, especially Drew, as old to him equals boring and dull. All plans for excitement for the summer are seemingly thwarted by the fact that they left the exciting fast pace of their home city behind that was filled with fast food restaurants, sports, concerts and all of their friends. To drown out his boredom Drew spends  the beginning of his vacation with his ears plugged into his headphones. Shortly after beginning their exploration, while traveling on a train, he loses his headphones which proves to be only the beginning of a notably wonderful adventure!

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers was written by Douglas Bond who is the author of more than a dozen books.  He is an English and history high school teacher and also an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. This book ties in the history of several famous hymn writers and the impact they made on those around them in using their gifts to bring “humble adoration” to their Maker. A few of these hymn leaders lead very colorful lives before deciding to follow God.
One of the hymn writers, Isaac Watts, was even taught Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French at home by his father when he was very young. Isaac had an uncanny way of writing poetry that was way beyond his years and at first his mom doubted that her 7 year old son was able to write so well about his faith. One such poem she discovered was obviously his original as the first letter of each line ended up spelled ISAAC WATTS.
I really like how the children who were expecting to have a boring summer instead discovered adventure learning how to sail a boat, fish, and ride a horse. They also learned about the history of church music through their new friend Mr. Pipes. In learning more about the lives of the British hymn makers they were able to come to a deeper understanding about their own faith in God. They also come learn about the importance of traditional praise worship.
I would recommend this book for children ages 9-12. My daughter is 11 and really enjoyed how the plot of the book tied into learning about the history of church music. We are looking forward to reading the rest of the series to go along with our current homeschool curriculum. There is enough information for an older child to learn about church history but the storyline is more for a younger child in my opinion than an older teen. I really enjoyed this book but it is a bit on the long side.

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers by Douglas Bond is published by Christian Liberty Press and is the first book in a series. It is available in print for $9.89, and also conveniently as an e-book, which is on on sale now for $8.79. 

Check out what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about this book!


A PDF copy of Mr. Pipes was given to me free of charge, in exchange for my honest review, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog. The opinions expressed are my own.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Teaching Fractions

While growing up math was a struggle for me, especially division and fractions. Of course in public school, especially way back then, it was taught straight out of a text book. This didn't work for me. It just did not sink in that way. So for both division and fractions my mom would have to reteach me at home which took quite awhile I might add. It seems like it finally sank in when I was developmentally ready for it. Other things came easily for me but math did not.

So when I started teaching my own children fraction lessons I decided to try a different approach. I try to think in terms of kinesthetic learning. In this style of learning children learn while doing a physical activity rather than just reading or looking at an explanation in a book. Also it helps the learning process to present the material in different ways such as games and videos. This works well with children who have learning disabilities as well as typically developing children. Here is a list of activities and ideas that I have done with my two children over the years plus some activities I have found online.
  1. We took paper plates and markers and decorated them like pizzas. One "pizza" we would cut in half, another in 1/4's, and another in 1/8 th's. On the back of each piece it would say the answer. I would mix them up on the floor and as they took a piece out of the pile they would tell me without looking what fraction it was. If they were right they kept the piece and if they were wrong it went back in the pile. The one with the most pieces in the end won. 
  2. When it was snack time we would cut up fruit, usually apples or bananas, and talk about what fraction of the fruit each piece was.
  3. Here's a great teaching blog with lots of fraction activity ideas plus a fraction book that this teacher made with her class!
  4. Incorporating literature into math. Here are a list of fraction books.
5. Here's are some more activities using food. This isn't always an option for my son with Prader-willi     syndrome but I can see it working well for other children!

6. Measuring cups and traveling fractions are also ways to reinforce learning fractions.

7. I can't forget youtube as a way to incorporate some visual and audio into the learning. Here are some videos I found. 
Learning math should not be painful. If approached in a way that works for your child it can even be fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Week in History by a Thomas Jefferson Education~Review


I think a good way to learn history, is to take it in small bites, rather than trying to consume it all at once. Thomas Jefferson Education has a unique approach to learning that makes this possible. I also believe that education can not be force fed if you want the student to retain the information you are trying to teach. Thomas Jefferson Education inspires this by using the seven keys of teaching:

  • 1. Classics, Not Textbooks.
  • 2. Mentors, Not Professors.
  • 3. Inspire, Not Require.
  • 4. Structure Time, Not Content.
  • 5. Simplicity, Not Complexity.
  • 6. Quality, Not Conformity.
  • 7. You Not Them.


As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I was given the opportunity to try out "This Week In History". For 9.99 a month, you receive a weekly email full of events that happened on the same date in history. It is also available online through their website. The really neat thing about this is that it is presented in such a way that you want to learn more about each subject listed! It includes various online resources, printables, and activities to go along with each subject.

Tower of Pisa August 9   August 15: Codes, Colors and Magnets, Missourians, and yet another Annie!

Some of our favorites were "The Leaning Tower of Pisa", the T-Rex Sue discovery (I lived near where it was found), and the discovery of "Silly Putty".The style that Thomas Jefferson Education uses, even though I did not realize it, is exactly how my daughter has learned best over the years. She is very self motivated to learn and I very rarely hear her say "I'm bored". She will find something to entertain herself that involves learning from nature, devouring classic books, and writing her ideas on paper. This Week in History is an awesome resource to continue to feed her desire to learn more.

The price is a little high for our current budget but I do think with the amount of information and resources it gives you that it is worth the monthly fee.It would be a wonderful addition to any curriculum you use even if you do not solely use the other TJEd curriculum.

I strongly encourage you to go and see what other homeschool families from the Schoolhouse Reveiw Crew are saying about this product. Click on the banner below to check them out!


Disclaimer: As a member f the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Math Made Easy Multiplication Review


Math Made Easy is a very simple and straightforward way to teach children the basics of math- addition and multiplication. For us, we tried out the multiplication program. With both the addition and multiplication workbooks the child learns the concept without using their fingers.


The program claims that mastery of the multiplication table is possible in just 6 weeks. The program is recommended for 3rd and 4th grade children or for special needs children that are that level. My son is 12 and has special needs and this program was right at his level. Multiplication is something we have had to take a break from as it is extremely frustrating for him. We do not normally us a lot of workbooks but I really like the simplicity of this one! With this program you initially eliminate the problems that are easily learned like the x 0's and x 1's.


The book has flashcards, game boards and other activities to make learning fun. I like how it mixes things up a bit and that it doesn't have only a page of drills. I will admit that my son will not be moving through it in the 6 weeks it claims but the simplicity of it is keeping his interest and he is moving through it nicely at his own pace!

I really encourage you to go look and see what the rest of the Crew Members have to say about the multiplication program AND the addition program.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer- AS a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are completely my own.

A weekend to explore!

This year we did not have a lot of extra money to go on a long vacation far away, so instead, we have taken a few small ones. Yesterday we met up with some friends that moved to Tennessee last year which is not far from where we live. I have known my friend for over 10 years but we have never met in person until this weekend! If I told some of my family that I have "computer friends" they would really wonder about me. (more so than they already do) I have met a lot of wonderful ladies though with similar interests and similar life journeys.

Oh, and a true test of character is how someone reacts to my kids, especially A~man. This family passed the test with flying colors! This particular friend has heard the tales and triumphs of our family over the years so she was prepared. Her husband was equally nice and shared a similar warped sense of humor that we do. HAHA!

She and her husband also have two very sweet redheads! All of the kids had so much fun exploring nature together. "H" and "T" were very much into climbing and looking for bugs just like my two.

Last week we started easing back into more "formal" schooling. We had taken a two month break from our online homeschool curriculum, which is more time than I had planned, but I think the break was good. They were more than eager to start back up! Also last week I started A~man reading some awesome biography chapter books. The first one is on George Washington as for whatever reason he is really interested in him. A couple of years ago he read a more easy reader on him and to this day he can tell you the basic facts about George's early years growing up. Next week I'm going to add math for A~man and for Z~girl. The weather is so beautiful that the rest of our days will hopefully be spent exploring nature and working on a nature notebook. I want to come up with a list of nature words and use them in a MatchIt definition worksheet for a little bit of sit down work.

Do you ease back in to the new school year or do you jump right in with both feet??

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Internet Safety for Kids

We now live in such a world that information can be ours with the click of a search engine. In homeschooling this can mean a wealth of opportunities to teach our child about every subject imaginable. It really is possible to find the resources you need to home-school your children for free or for a minimal amount of money. Nothing like this was available when I was a child. Along with this open access to information though there is danger that lurks almost everywhere you go. Child internet safety is a must! Here is a list of ideas to make the web a safer place for your children.

  1. Place your computer in a central location where you can monitor what your children are doing on the computer. My son who has special needs has to have me directly by him as he will click on ANYTHING he sees that looks interesting. He also has an ipod but we do not have it hooked up to our wireless as he would end up buying games. LOL
  2. YouTube can be a whole lot of fun for a child and educational too but I know when I have been on there (with or without kids) a lot of other videos will pop on the side and more likely than not there will be some NOT intended for children's eyes. I haven't tried this yet but there is a safety filter for YouTube. This blog tells you how to make YouTube safe for children.
  3. Install web filtering software. The software filters out objectionable material before your child has the chance to see it. This is a good thing as I know a seemingly innocent search misspelled can turn up things not intended.
  4. There are websites with invaluable information on keeping your child safe. GetNetWise is a good one that also has an online safety guide.
  5. Just like you give your child guidelines on the type of behavior you expect of them in places like the library, church, playground, and the grocery store, you should also let them know their boundaries when they are on the internet. 
  6. Let them know they are not allowed to chat online with people they do not know. It is so easy for someone to pretend to be someone they are not. Along that same subject children should know that they cannot share personal information online like their address or phone number.
  7. Know the websites they frequent. Part of my children's "school work" is an online curriculum. Make sure that these places of education and fun are safe from objectionable material or interactions.
I could go on and on but I will stop there. The internet is an invaluable place to enrich your child's education and with a parent's (or teacher's) supervision it can also be a safe place.