Swine Flu Info.

If, like me, you are freaked out over the high pitched ferver of Swine Flu reaching global pandemic level, I highly suggest you tune out major news and tune in to Twitter at around 12:30 am. It’s much less scary that way:

Swine Flu.

Off to tidy up my food storage area and buy more M&M’s from Costco, in case we need to hunker down anytime soon…

***
The kids are following the outbreak in a few different ways. Golfer keeps tabs on it by checking out the Google ‘Swine Flu’ map. Naturalist is documenting the number of cases in the US each day and then graphing them to see how fast the rate of change is. This is proof of what I’ve long thought: you can make anything nerdy, even Swine Flu.

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2e Tuesday: The Font’s The Thing!

I had no idea, until I read the Wall Street Journal article (here) that the font Comic Sans was so divisive! That it inspired so much passion (either good or bad) from people! That there is a flickr group dedicated to hating it! That, in fact, there is another group, Ban Comic Sans
whose sole purpose is to, well, ban Comic Sans from the general population.

Over my dead body!

(wow, I guess fonts really DO produce strong emotions!)

My daughter was a reluctant reader. Dyslexia had a lot to do with that, but looking back, I think the types of fonts used in schools and books also had a lot to do with it, too. Hand in hand with dyslexia is a very visual learning style, and when Naturalist was taught to print her letters in basic ‘teacher writing’ she visualized her letters that way:

school font

That is a very different look than the serif fonts that she then came across on her worksheets and in the early readers. Fonts like this, with the funky a and serifs flinging off everywhere:

bad dyslexic fonts

I remember specifically at a teacher conference in 1st grade, the teacher and I sat scratching our heads because Naturalist had written her name on a worksheet that she was supposed to circle all the letters that she recognized. She circled maybe 3 letters–none of which were the letters in her name. You know, the name she’d just written down. Her teacher loved her, I loved her teacher, and we sat and had a good chuckle about how flighty Naturalist was.

Now, I think I know what it was all about. She knew her letters sans serif, like this:

dyslexic friendly fonts

but guess what font the worksheet was in? Times New Roman. Naturalist had memorized the shapes of the letters, and when you added a little serif ‘flare’ on the top or bottom, then she didn’t register it. Additionally, once she’d memorized the shape of it, then you could flip it and turn it upside down and it would remain that letter. Thus, the issue with b,d, and p and a whole host of other letters (u and n, h and y, to name a few).

If you have a reluctant reader, with or without dyslexia, the size and shape of the font can make a huge difference in the ease of reading, which then creates a non-reluctant reader. Naturalist and I played around with size and type of font in Word one day, and came up with her top list of fonts (which I name in the picture above). At first, she preferred the size of them to be in the 70’s, and then the 30’s, and now she’s comfortable with them at 24.

Likewise, once I showed her how to make the font size larger on the computer, she was able to read things off the internet so much easier.

When we look at books to read, she checks out the font first. Some she just can’t read without a significant amount of eye strain and fatigue, so she usually sticks to hardbacks (larger font, in most cases) with less serif type fonts.

If you have a reluctant reader, I highly recommend starting at investigating size and shape of fonts. Find one they like reading off of Word, and then copy/paste things of interest off the internet, change it into that font, and then make it larger. Print that out and see if it makes a difference. For us, it made a HUGE impact. Naturalist still struggles with different aspects of dyslexia, but the right font cuts out at least half the frustration she used to have.

It’s for those reasons that I say to the Ban Comic Sans people…if you want to take Comic Sans down, you’ll have to go through me first.

Resource:
A great article about font selection for very right brain, visual, or dyslexic readers, including links to suggested fonts.

Math Monday::Outdoor Math!

I have a long history with Outdoor Math. My mom used to take me to the beach when I was trying to learn my multiplication tables, and while there she would draw multiplication problems in the sand with a stick. I also had a stick, and my job was to answer them before the next wave came in and washed the problems away. I hated math, but loved this game!

Now that the weather is warming up, my kids beg to do math outside. Not that they’re begging to do math…they just want to go out in the warmth, and so I bring the math with us. I’ve started up a Creative Math Club, and this last week we had enough kids to make the biggest number line in history. Or, at least, in our neighborhood that day!

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To make your very own record breaking number line, hand everyone foot long rulers and a wet piece of chalk. Wet because it makes a darker, more durable mark on the writing surface. Then, find a long sidewalk and have them mark a line with their ruler as a guide. Then, mark both ends with a hash mark and start again on either side. Once you have a line as long as you want it, the fun can begin! Actually, the fun has already begun, but don’t tell the kids that.

It’s up to you what kind of number line you want. For our purposes, we had both positive and negative numbers on our line. Many of the kids hadn’t seen negative numbers before, but they quickly picked up on the fact that they were the same numbers they knew, but with a – in front of them.

I had everyone guess where the center of our line was, and run to that mark (the numbers hadn’t been written in yet). Once everyone was on their mark, I took the middle of that and it became the ‘O’:

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Then everyone picked a side and started filling in numbers. Their guess was pretty darn accurate…the positive side had 26 numbers:

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and the negative side had 25:

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The variations of what you can actually do with the number line are practically endless, which is pretty fun in and of itself. This day, though, we gave the kids a dice and let them roll for a number. If the number was even, they moved that number toward the positive side. If the number was odd, they moved that number toward the negative side. The goal was to get off the number line in either direction!

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Sassy exclaimed this was the ‘best number line EVER!’ which is quite enthusiastic considering she’s never seen one before. Even though participation is optional in the Club, everyone tried out the number line…even the boys that were more interested in playing on the Wii or basketball (*cough* Golfer *cough*). A big number line like this, where you have to actually walk to get to different numbers is fantastic for kinesthetic learners especially, but is actually great for anyone looking to have fun with grasping number concepts. I have to admit, even I got a kick out of running along the line from number to number.

Some variations for this game, just off the top of my head:

limit it to whole positive numbers, and then count on: by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc. Leap from number to number.
Shout out number problems and have the kids run to stand on the answer.
Have each kid pick a number and then have them roll the dice to see what number to add/subtract from that number. Play until they reach the end.

Have plenty of lemonade on hand…doing math like this can really work up a sweat!

Outdoor math

My “Go To”

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Kristin over at Maine Momma posted her favorite ‘go to’ recipe when the weather turns warm. Hers is a lovely marinade/dressing to put over greens that works equally well as a marinade on some pork. Looks delish!

I have a ‘go to’ recipe of my own–this one for a fruit dish that I make just about once a week from the time I open my windows to nice, crisp spring air, until I have to shut them again when Autumn blows through. It’s just. that. good. I originally got this from my sister-in-law, a former Miss Kentucky who manages to do everything effortlessly, all while looking like she’s ready for a close up.

I use this fruit trifle as a fruit salad to accompany the meal, however most people would consider it a dessert. I found this out when I had a friend over and told her to bring a dessert, and then she showed up with a similar fruit trifle while I had made this one for a ‘fruit salad’. I then had to clarify that something is only a desert if it has chocolate in it.

The recipe:

Half an angel food cake, torn into bite size pieces.
A packet of vanilla pudding (4 oz. size), mixed and chilled.
A tub of cool whip (any size works, just depends on how much you like cool whip!)

An assortment of seasonal, available, fresh fruits. My favorites are: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, bananas, and raspberries.

In a deep dish, layer ingredients. This can be a creative choice and differs for everyone, but I do it this way:

angel food cake, fruit, pudding, cool whip, then repeat once again, or as many times as you can fit in your container.

It’s rare that I have any left over, but if I do, it’s even better the next day. And for July 4th, it’s fun to make this with strawberries and blueberries to play up the ‘red, white, and blue’ theme.

I just happen to have some already made up today (I told you I make it every week!) and I’ll have it along with Kristin’s marinade on some salad.

I don’t know which I love more–warm weather or warm weather food!

Pass it on!

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”  J.M. Barrie

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” — J.M. Barrie

Happy Friday, everyone! Don’t forget to share the love!

Pass it on!

Spring is back…laundry is on hold until inclement weather returns.

Tulip

I know there are all sorts of professionals out there who are certified to diagnose and treat ADD/ADHD in people. However, I have my own failproof test that is pretty much 100% accurate in picking out people with ADD, and it even can predict the severity of it.

It’s called ‘doing laundry’. If you can do laundry over and over and over again, without getting sidetracked between the spin cycle and the done buzzer or bored with the mindless repetition of washing something that you’ve washed every week for months…you don’t have ADD. If you can sort and match dozens of white socks of varying sizes without getting paralyzed with emotional and mental pain, you do not have ADD. If you can do more than one full load of laundry in a day (instead of getting sidetracked in the morning and forgetting all about it), if you can look at piles of dirty clothes and not get wracked down with despair at the thought of sorting through it piece by piece, if you can not only get the clothes clean and dry but also folded and in the right drawer…you do not have ADD. And, you are my hero.

For me, keeping up with my laundry is like one of Hercules tasks. I’m no better at it now than I was 16 years ago. Now that Naturalist and Golfer are old enough, I’ve delegated the laundry duties of their clothes to them. This would work perfectly if they weren’t also as distractible and inattentive to mundane details as I am. It’s like the blind leading the blind over here. Hubby is really, really great at it, but he has this pesky thing called a job to keep him occupied.

In any case, I have a hella lot of laundry to get finished, a sinkful of really nasty dishes to get clean (or, at least in the dishwasher), and childrens clothes to change from winter to spring. The kids and I put in a really good effort to do all that this morning, but by the time lunch came around we were ready to bail and go on a picnic. So we did. We enjoyed the sun filled tulips and the really warm day. We played with Frito in a field and layed on our backs in the grass to look up at the clouds. We told jokes and complained about the heat (well, some of us who are still 4 did, anyway). We divided 2 cupcakes evenly between the 4 of us that were there, and then cried about how small our piece was (well, those of us who are PMS’ing did, anyway). We rode our bikes there and then decided we were a queen and didn’t want to ride back to the house (the 4 year old, again). Today, we didn’t just live life. We enjoyed it!

Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind. I’ve got laundry to finish!

Although…it’s going to be in the 70’s again….

2e Tuesday: “Give me a creative outlet or give me death!”

Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is. Mason Cooley

I’ve written lots about twice exceptional learners in the past few months, mostly detailing the “LD” part of their equation while ignoring the gifted and talented part. This is due to the fact that the tiny portion of their learning disabilities produce about 99% of their emotional turmoil and frustrations. This makes it easy to focus on it, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.

This time, though, I’ve been thinking of the amazingly positive exceptionalities that come along with being a very divergent learner. Namely: creativity. Loads of creativity. So much creativity, it’s hard to contain it all in one little brain. Naturalist exudes creative energy. She is constantly making, either on a grand scale with some elaborate scheme, or on a smaller scale by folding paper over and over while she sits at the kitchen table.

In school, the schedule and process was to harness all that energy and dam it up behind routine, worksheets, and sitting still. As the outlets for her creative mind dried up, so did her reason and knack for learning. Boredom set in with all the rote memorization, and that is the kiss of death to a divergent mind.

It becomes disheartening for these students with eager, bright minds to continuously experience failure in school while learning and creating successfully at home. They also tend to have more creative productive interests. They are able to conceptualize quickly, to reason abstractly, to generalize easily, and to enjoy the challenge of solving novel problems autonomously. Basic automatic skills such as perceptual scanning, sequencing, organization, and study skills are at the center of their difficulties. Hobbies and interests that require keen motivation and creative thinking abilities are often observed outside of the school environment, while their performance in school is poor.

At home, Naturalist is never very far away from a few things: a lump of clay, some pipe cleaners, wooden craft sticks, and/or duct tape. I’ve learned over time to give her something to knead in her hands if I’m telling her something I want her to remember or learn. The physical act of creating something (a rudimentary sculpture while she listens, or even just molding the clay in her fingers) is tied directly to the part of her brain that stimulates learning and paying attention. I don’t know why this is so–it just is. And I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I just give her clay and let it be.

I am amazed at the steady stream of ideas she is constantly thinking up. If I’m ever stuck and can’t figure something out, she’s the one that problem solves it. Hubby and I call her MacGuyver, because she can take 4 unrelated items and put them together to create something amazing. She rarely plays games using the rules, but makes her own up because it makes it more interesting. In fact, she usually just makes the games up to boot. She frequently makes DaVinci worthy creations out of Legos without breaking a sweat.

When she is in her creative mode, she shines. This is not atypical of 2e kids, and is something to celebrate and encourage as often as possible. The way Naturalist acts when she has no creative outlet and is ‘bored’ is akin to dying a thousand deaths over a thousand years. Life is torturous to her when her creativity and divergent thinking is dammed up or stopped in some way (*cough*standardized schooling*cough*).

The kid who is dull and lethargic in class can often completely stun with what they can do outside of school with some K*nex, legos, clay, etc. Look for it, and share the joy!