Following Murphy's Law, we are in the midst of Hendersonville's coldest winter on record. After being pregnant in the hottest summer on record, it stands to reason that I would have an infant during the coldest winter ever. So here we are, tons of snow on the ground, homebound and looking for creative ways to stay entertained. Being mid-January, I figure we'll be stuck in the house a whole lot more before we see warmer weather and less white stuff in the driveway. So being half stir-crazy and half genius, I constructed a playroom/classroom for Ben.
Activity baskets and bins of toys:
In addition to having a place to house the mountain of toys that Santa brought, our playroom has become Ben's classroom. With the help of his case manager, occupational therapist and speech therapist, we've filled the room with crafts and activity baskets that encourage fine-motor skills and creativity. When official therapy isn't in session, unofficial therapy is - in the room formally known as the sunroom.
For the last two months, we've been working on expanding Ben's vocabulary. We've progressed from being able to count the words in his vocabulary to losing track. He says a lot. Usually one word at a time, but he can put two of them together occasionally. Some of it is intelligible. Most of it requires a translator. But being Mama, I understand everything. Our focus now lies in encouraging two word structures and spontaneous talking. And I am beginning to work with him on phonological awareness. Ben is awesome at telling you the middle sound of a word. The first and last sounds often get omitted. Balloon is "loooo". Green is "eeee". Counting from thirteen to twenty goes something like "uh-ee, uh-ee, uh-ee, tun-eeeeee!". So Magical Karen, our SLP brought me a curriculum in a hefty three-ring binder to jump-start his work with phonological awareness. She said she typically doesn't start working with this until a child is three or older, but is giving her blessing to get started a bit sooner. So these are the things we are working on in the cool new playroom. We're also working on fine-motor skills and sensory tolerance. Feeling a variety of different textures and not freaking out. Learning to use scissors functionally (don't worry, they're the crappy plastic kind safe for little kids). Today after speech, we worked a few activities.
Fine motor skills - peeling the backs off stickers and sticking them to paper - harder than you think:
Using a claw to grab farm animals out of a bin... but not getting it quite yet:
Counting farm animals:
"uh-ee, uh-ee, uh-ee, tun-eeeeee!"
He loves it. And I'm having fun too! We've got a lot more activities to explore and plenty of time to do it, so hopefully this is the first blog in a series about Ben's Sunroom Preschool. If the weather keeps up the current trend of snow twice a week and subzero temperatures, we'll have plenty of time to explore everything.
Another project we're slowly introducing is potty training! Our potty was delivered from Amazon.com last week along with the instructional book "Once Upon a Potty". This clever book talks about certain body parts involved with going potty, what a potty is, what goes in it, and how proud your mother will be when you use it correctly. I remember discovering this book years ago with my middle-school friends and laughing hysterically at the illustrations, the phrasing, and a page about how the kid "sat and sat and sat and sat..." waiting for something to come out. I think about this every time Ben and I read the book together. Coincidentally, he also thinks that Joshua sitting on the potty for a full page is quite funny, and mimics me while I read it. He does not, however, understand the concept yet. Either that or the book's illustrator failed miserably. When he gets to the page where it shows the potty that has been freshly used, Ben's response every time is "Mmmm, yum!". Can't really argue with him here, the potty looks like a white cup and Joshua's work looks more like dessert and less like finished business. Anyway, I'll go ahead and spare you the pictures of Ben's bottom making contact with the potty, but know that we've definitely got a few to add to the photo album I call "pictures I can't wait to show his future girlfriends".
Studying for the test:
See the page on the right where Joshua has clearly missed the target? That's kinda how potty training is going for us so far. But I don't expect Ben to be in big-boy underwear next month. Or even in six months really. The benefit of Mama being home all day mixed with my new disdain for buying diapers inspired me to get the process started a little early.
Lots of learning going on here. We're bringing in the new year right at Turner Place.