5 Ways Your Kids Are Learning While Playing Video Games

I married a gamer.  Since gaming is ‘Love’s hobby, it’s something the kids have always been interested in, and it’s been a natural activity for them to bond over.  Unfortunately, I feel as if I’m constantly apologizing for the fact that my kids spend an hour most days taking turns playing computer or console games with Daddy.

I’ve decided that the time for apologizing is over.  While there’s always a chance that they’re picking up negative habits or beliefs from slaying pixelated zombies or conglomerate monster-things (and we are pretty careful about the types of games we expose our kids to–though interestingly enough no one seems to think we should abandon Bible reading when the kids role play David killing Goliath or Solomon threatening to cut the head off the baby to determine its true mother), the more I’ve watched and listened to them gaming with Daddy, the more I’m convinced that gaming, like most other hobbies, has many benefits.

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9 Book Series for Your Fairy-Loving Kid

fairybooksHave a fairy-loving kid on your hands?  Since I have spent several months of near-constant scrambling, trying to find things my daughter would enjoy reading, I figured I’d log what I found in the hope that it helps someone else.  I found five fairy-themed chapter book series and four series that involved enough magic to make up for the lack of fairies.  These range from late-second to fourth grade reading level and include occasional pictures, since my visual kid loves illustrations.  Several of them also feature a nice, big font, for those intimidated by small, crowded type. Continue reading

DIY Vision Therapy: 12 Exercises You Can Do At Home

If you read my last blog post, you know that we found out that our youngest needed vision therapy, but the price tag was beyond what we could afford.  Immediately after that revelation, I took my kids to gymnastics, where a former-OT friend informed me that she had been given a whole binder full of vision therapy exercises during her time working in a low-income school in South Africa.

We’ve now been doing vision exercises about 3-4 times a week for 9 weeks, and little Pookie has gone from only sounding out single, large words written in magnets or on the white board to eagerly reading Biscuit books for bedtime.  (In case you missed the last post, he’s been able to sound out single words in this manner for more than a year, but he just wasn’t making any progress.)  While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, I figured it can’t hurt to share some of what we’ve done with other parents who might find themselves in a similar situation. Continue reading

DIY Vision Therapy: It Is Possible!

When Pookie was three-and-a-half, he started putting letters together to make words.  Though I was surprised–he still only recognized less than half of the alphabet–I hauled out my early-reading materials and prepared for him to progress. Only he didn’t.  At first I assumed it was a readiness issue; he was very young, after all, and though his siblings also learned to read young, perhaps the fact that he couldn’t remember all of his letters was holding him back.  But after a full year with no progress, I began to wonder if there was more going on.  After all, ‘Love’s childhood medical records indicated that he had received vision therapy for tracking issues.

After receiving several recommendations for a particular optometrist, I called and made an appointment.  I had been warned that it would be pricey, but $250 (sans vision insurance) for a 75-minute-long, in-depth assessment that included a retinal scan didn’t seem too shocking.  The first appointment confirmed my suspicion–there were a few issues that deserved more attention.  A second appointment (another $350) involved another hour of interactive assessments for my little guy while I was provided with information on vision therapy and was told to expect a price tag of $3-4,000 for six months of treatment.  At the hour-long follow-up appointment (included in the cost, thankfully), the optometrist gave us a report on the testing that had been done and how our son had performed.  It was very thorough and helpful, and most of what she said made a lot of sense with what I had observed.

Then came the bombshell: the cost was going to be $6,400 for 34 weekly, 45-minute therapy appointments (plus one or two additional progress assessments).  Reeling from the unexpected price hike, ‘Love and I walked out with heavy hearts.  We had been braced to pay $500 a month for treatment we thought would have long-term benefits for our son; this amount would have been a stretch, but it was attainable.  Finding an extra $750 a month, however, was simply out of the question.  But how could we walk away from something that would help our child succeed in life? Continue reading

The Bedtime Boon

‘Love despises bedtime.  For him, it’s an ordeal that must be accomplished in order to achieve the goal of parental freedom.  And I’ve got to admit, until recently I felt the same way.  At bedtime everyone is either whiny, oversensitive, and combative (due to the fact that they are sorely in need of sleep); completely hyper and crazy (in an if-I-don’t-keep-moving-I’ll-fall-asleep-on-my-feet kind of way); or unimaginably slow and full of excuses.  It’s enough to make any sane parent pull out their hair.

Somehow this year, that’s changed.  No, not the kids.  They’re still running like maniacs or bursting into tears while dragging their feet at every possible occasion.  But I’ve realized that nearly all the craziness comes to an abrupt halt the moment we’re alone in their bedroom.

As every parent with more than one child knows, there’s simply never enough of you to go around.  It seems that the kids are almost constantly vying for my attention, talking over one another, asking me to play a game or do a craft or watch a trick or….  Mommy is a hot commodity. Continue reading

Experiential Science: Flight, Part 2

This is the second installment of our lessons on flight.  You can read about our first portion (which covers the four forces of flight and kites) in this post.

Hot Air Balloons, Airships, and Parachutes

Next in the human flight story is the hot air balloon.  After reading Yasuda’s chapter on hot air balloons, airships, and parachutes, we tried creating our own hot air balloon.  We failed, but it was fun and exciting enough to be worth your effort, even if it doesn’t work.  Though Yasuda offered one option in her book, ‘Love objected to it because it relied on a hair dryer to work; he argued that it would confuse the matter by including blowing air in the process of causing the balloon to rise.  While modern balloonists may use fans to help initially fill their balloons, the blowing air is not the mechanism that causes the balloon to rise. Continue reading

Experiential Science: Flight, Part 1

The kids unanimously agreed that they wanted one of their next unit studies to be about flying.  As I began typing up all of the activities we’ve been doing, I realized that my post was getting super long, so I’ve once again separated our study into parts.  This first part will encompass our study of the four forces of flight and kites.  Our projects with hot air balloons, gliders, airplanes, and more will be coming soon.

I thought it would make the most sense to talk about the history of flight in chronological order.  Thankfully, I stumbled on Explore Flight! by Anita Yasuda.  The book starts with flight in nature–the inspiration for humans who wanted to fly–and ends with rockets.  Included are “25 great projects”–though I had issue with a few, particularly the ornithopter project, which was really just a glider with some added feathers.

Of course, I can’t just use one book and leave well enough alone, so I did quite a bit of supplementing and elaborating by using additional materials. Continue reading