Looking for ways to design creative and effective therapy lessons all about Saint Patrick's Day for your speech and language students? Here are some wonderfully entertaining book ideas to support an early childhood curriculum and can easily be used to enhance language development both in the classroom and in your home.
- The Story of Saint Patrick's Day (board book) - written by Patricia A. Pingry and illustrated by Pamela R. Levy; written and water color illustrations by Heidi Pross Gray
- Appropriate for children ages 2 and up
- Summary: This book first discusses the traditional symbols of the holiday that are often found in schoolrooms, such as shamrocks, harps and leprechauns. Then the narrative moves to a short biography of Saint Patrick himself as a shepherd, a missionary and a teacher. This colorful board book ties together the life of St. Patrick with the traditional images of Ireland. Reviews of this book also share that there is a religious component to it as well.
- Earned 4 stars on Amazon
- St. Patrick's Day Countdown (board book) - by Salina Yoon
- Appropriate for babies and young children 0-3
- Summary: The reviews are stellar for this adorable children's book. The pages include counting, bright, colorful pictures and a fun rhyming text making this a St. Patrick's Day treat any child would love.
- Earned 5 stars on Amazon
- The Night Before St. Patrick's Day (paperback) - written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Amy Wummer
- Appropriate for preschool children ages 3-5
- Summary: An Irish twist on a Christmas classic! This story is very imaginative and full of St. Patrick's Day themes (shamrocks, a pot of gold, etc.). The illustrations are beautifully done and very whimsical, all about two children setting traps to catch a leprechaun! When they wake the next morning to their dad playing the bagpipes and their mom cooking green eggs, they're shocked to find that they've actually caught one!
- Earned 5 stars on Amazon
Remember, St. Patrick's Day is next Monday March 17th, so make sure you are prepared!
For more book ideas, visit Amazon.com, your local bookstore or library and let your imagination go!
Today's recipe offers a healthy twist on a family breakfast favorite: WAFFLES! This recipe incorporates several key ingredients to help add earthy flavor AND cut unnecessary fat from a delicious morning meal that your whole family will love!
You will need:
- Multigrain Pancake/Waffle Mix (Trader Joe's makes a delicious version, which calls for oil, milk and eggs. If you choose this brand, substitute the oil with apple sauce)
- A waffle iron (If you don't have one, ask around, look at garage sales and check websites like craigslist for used ones. My mother gave me hers. It is over 30 years old and it works perfectly!)
- Vanilla extract
- Butter (optional)
- Warmed syrup
- Butter spray to grease the iron
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Fruit for the top: blueberries, strawberries, bananas or sliced apples
- Plug in the waffle iron and let it get nice and hot while you make the waffle mix.
- Prepare waffle mix, adding in a half cup of apple sauce to help moisten the powdered batter and cinnamon to enhance the flavor (how much you add is up to you!). In addition, add in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir everything together.
- Let your children/students help you measure, pour and stir!
- Spray the waffle iron with spray butter to keep the waffles from sticking. *Spray each time before putting new batter onto the iron.
- Let the waffles cook until they are golden brown and then remove from iron using a fork to loosen them.
- If making these in a classroom, cut the waffles into quarters so that every child can sample a bite (you can always make more!)
- Once everyone has a waffle, pass around a bowl of whipped cream and a bowl of your favorite fruit.
- Let the child help scoop the whipped cream and gently add fresh fruit to the top.
- Serve with a yummy glass of cold milk or a cup of 100% fresh orange juice.
These waffles earn rave reviews in our home!
I made them last weekend for family members visiting from Florida and were hungry for a warm, hearty breakfast.
I served a tray of fresh fruits with our waffles and we all enjoyed a healthy twist to an American favorite!
Last week I wrote a post about "The Consultation Format." However, in April 2013 I wrote the initial post entitled "Speech Consultations and Home Care." From that first post, a therapist from Indiana offered the following observations and questions:
"I really like this idea (of conducting consultations), especially that another therapist is present to help implement any ideas. In our area, we have a team of therapists who only conduct evaluations, then, if a child is determined as eligible for services after the evaluation, the team recommends the level of service, which is provided by therapists not on the evaluation team.
For this consult level of service, at what point in the process does a formal evaluation occur? I'm wondering if in our area, it would make more sense for the ST who does the evaluation to provide the consult or if it would make more sense for a therapist to provide a consult, then, if it is determined that the child still has a need after a couple of months, he/she be evaluated then to determine level of service.
I would first like to answer the therapist's question: At what point in the process does a formal evaluation occur? My answer is that in our area a formal evaluation is not really part of the consultation process. A formal evaluation happens at the time of the initial evaluation/entry into the birth to 3 process. Formal testing then occurs yearly until the child transitions to the 3-5 program. In addition, we have a separate evaluation team who conducts the evaluations both during the initial visit and at the annual testing. These teams may be composed of different therapists and therefore are not the same evaluation team.
To answer the question regarding if a formal evaluation would be needed to determine the level of services after the consultation is complete, I would have to say "no." The child has already gone through the testing within the past year so to do more is not really necessary. In addition, they will be re-tested within the next year as long as they remain in the program. Adding additional testing is really not necessary and could compromise testing validity to have it done more than once within the same year. Our services our recommended by the team and is a group decision based on what the child's main needs are at that time. If speech has now become a more crucial need than the other therapies, the team may also decide to reduce PT, OT and/or Education to help support the focus on speech (or vice versa depending on the needs of the child).
Please write in to share your thoughts, questions and experiences!
Here is a deliciously fun recipe that your kids will love both making and eating! Your little ones will enjoy making their own sausage sticks by dipping them in pancake batter and warm maple syrup creating a yummy breakfast treat that is scrumptious any time of the day!
- 8 maple breakfast sausage links
- 2 cups pancake mix (Follow pancake mix directions - most include water/milk/oil and an egg. Try using a multigrain pancake batter to give your family some extra healthy grains in their diet. Trader Joe's makes a delicious one!)
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- A dash of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Canola Oil (for frying)
- Warm pancake syrup, for serving
- You will also need dulled skewers or chopsticks to put through the sausage links.
- Cook the maple breakfast sausages, turning occasionally until thoroughly cooked. Set aside and let cool.
- In a large bowl, follow the recipe to make the pancake batter.
- Add the cornmeal, cinnamon and vanilla to the batter and stir everything together.
- Heat a few cups of canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat to about 350 degrees F. Drop in a bit of batter to see if it's ready; the batter should start to bubble but should not immediately brown/burn.
- Insert skewers or chopsticks into the cooked breakfast sausages so that they're about two-thirds of the way through the sausage.
- Dip the sausages completely into the batter and allow any excess to drip off for a couple of seconds.
- Carefully dip the batter covered sausage link stick into the oil (This part of the recipe is NOT an activity for children. You or another adult should dip the sausage link stick into the oil). Keep the sausage submerged for approximately 1-2 minutes or until the batter becomes a golden brown.
- Remove from the oil and lay on a paper towel to help soak up oil and allow them to cool down.
- Once cooled, serve with a warm little cup of maple syrup for dipping!
This is a great idea if you are serving "breakfast for dinner"!
In April 2013, I wrote a post about completing speech consultations in the home care setting.
In that post I shared that our county had recently started a new practice of providing one-time consultations to families and home care teams in need of specialized instruction in any of the various disciplines: Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy. At that time several readers expressed an interest in learning more about this process. Over the past few weeks I have been asked to conduct several speech, language and feeding consultations for children ranging in age from 7 months to 2 and ½ years old. For those of you interested in learning more about this practice, here are the steps we follow to complete a thorough and effective consultation:
- Gather background information - this is vital and can be done a number of ways: read the child's most recent ER and IEP prior to the session, ask the caregivers information about their child's medical history, milestone development, etc.
- Define the main issue(s) and concerns - Speak with both the family and the team member(s) about what the main concern(s) are for this child. Have an open question and answer session with the family and attending team member. Also make sure the child is present for the consultation and use the time to observe and interact with them as well.
- Give Clear Suggestions for the Team and Family to Implement - This is the main purpose of the consultation. Write down as well as explain a defined list of suggestions for the family and team to implement over the next several weeks/months until the next quarterly review meeting.
- The Team and Family have approximately 8-9 weeks to implement the strategies outlined by the consulting therapist.
- The Team will reconvene at the next quarterly review meeting. Approximately 8-9 weeks later the team should review the strategies, discuss if they have worked and then problem-solve what to do if they have not worked or feel more intervention is warranted. At this time, the team may suggest and /or request that therapeutic services be implemented. The frequency and location for speech therapy will also be determined at this meeting.
Please share if your county participates in consultation services and if the process mirrors our practices which are listed above.
Looking for something new to serve your little ones at dinnertime? Today's meal offers a balanced palette of vegetables, fruits, dairies and proteins that will warm their bellies and make their taste buds happy!
The Main Dish: Honey Ham, Turkey and Cheddar Stromboli
You will need:
Sharp Cheddar sliced cheese
Honey Ham deli meat
Sliced turkey meat
Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls (in the tube)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Lay crescent roll dough out flat on baking pan (I prefer a baking stone) and kneed together at the perforated lines so that dough becomes one large flat piece
- Layer with honey ham, sliced turkey and cheddar cheese
- Fold over each of the long sides and then the short sides so that all the meat and cheese is tucked neatly inside (important that inside contents are not showing so to prevent cheese from oozing out of the middle)
- Bake for approximately 20-25 min and serve warm
The Simple Side: Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
You will need:
Fresh Asparagus (wash thoroughly)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lay asparagus side by side on a roasting pan (I prefer to use stoneware)
- Lightly drizzle olive oil over each one and sprinkle with salt, garlic and parmesan
- Roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until softened a slight snap of crunchy texture remains. Enjoy!
The Healthy Sweet: Warm Apples and Ice Cream
You will need:
3 apples (try using different types)
Vanilla Bean Ice cream (or any flavor you prefer)
- Slice and skin the apples and in a pan, melt a tablespoon of butter.
- Add apples to the pan and warm on the stove.
- Sprinkle on the cinnamon and stir so that they warm evenly, about 8-10 minutes
- Pour a generous spoonful over a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!
These dishes are all favorites in my home and I hope your family will enjoy them as well!
They each use just a few ingredients, making them easy to create, especially if you are short on time!
It's been a rough winter for most of the U.S. and even states that usually never see snow have had days off from school and work due to an over-abundance of the powdery white stuff. So, with numerous days of missed school, lost speech sessions and countless hours stuck inside, how can we utilize our resources and make the most of our situation? USE what you've got and what we've got is SNOW!
Here are 4 great ideas for using this chilly natural resource in fun and educational ways:
- Fill It UP! If you are at school and have access to a sensory table, fill it with fresh, clean snow and enjoy! Add tools and toys like buckets, shovels and measuring cups and let the fun begin! Are you at home with the kids? Try filling a bucket or wash basin and if you are feeling brave, the bath tub! Bring some nature inside and let your child(ren) enjoy digging and scooping away!
- Find the Rainbow ... at the end of the snow storm! Take out your watercolors and washable paints and get busy! Adding color to the stark white snow can really make things interesting and bring a child's imagination to life! Mix colors together and watch the magic happen! Remember, yellow and red make orange, red and blue equals purple and so on ... a little science lesson and color word vocabulary are ideal for this chilly creation!
As long as the snow is fresh, clean and white, consuming a bit of it should not be a problem. Here are a few simple recipes that can easily be made at home or at school and kids of all ages will love!
- Snow Cone Slushies! All you need for this refreshing delight is a big plastic cup, a scoop of snow and your favorite fruit juice drizzled on top. Be mindful not to add TOO much juice so your snow is floating, just enough to add some color and flavor! Grab a spoon and dig in!
- Snow Ice Cream! This recipe comes directly from the Food Network and Paula Dean. There are many ice cream recipes using snow, but I thought I would share one that seems fool proof and has excellent reviews!
You will need:
- 8 cups snow (or shaved ice)
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: Place snow or shaved ice into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over and add vanilla. Mix to combine. Serve immediately in bowls.
Enjoy, be safe and stay warm in the SNOW!
Happy Valentine's Day to ALL!
I chose today's recipe for two reasons: 1. The dish is deliciously festive and therefore perfect for Valentine's day AND 2. The ingredients are simple and if you are snowed in like we are and unable to get to a grocery store, there is a good chance you would have the necessary components on hand! Enjoy this treat as a fancy breakfast, a mid-day Valentine's treat or as an after-dinner dessert!
Red and Pink Valentine's Day Crepes
You will need:
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6-7 tablespoons butter
- Fresh strawberries
- Fresh raspberries
- Strawberry ice cream or Strawberry whipped cream
- Powdered Sugar (optional)
- Red and Pink Sprinkles (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together the milk, egg yolks and vanilla.
- Melt 5 tablespoons of butter and stir into the mixture.
- Add in the flour, sugar and salt until well blended.
- Heat a crepe pan (or large, flat pan) over medium heat until hot. Coat using spray butter or baking spray.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tip to spread the batter to the edges. When bubbles form on the top and the edges are dry, flip over and cook until lightly browned on the other side and edges are golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Rinse your strawberries and raspberries and cut strawberries into quarters.
- In a separate pan, melt a slab of butter.
- Add in your berries and let them warm with the butter for about 6-8 minutes.
- Lay out your warm, soft crepes so that they are flat and ready to be filled.
- Pour a generous tablespoon of berries into the center of each crepe.
- Roll of your crepe to help keep all the juicy fruit inside.
- Top with either your strawberry ice cream or whipped cream.
- Decorate with powdered sugar and/or pink and red sprinkles and enjoy with a yummy cup of hot cocoa!
Hope you are spending today with the ones you love!
Today's post is an extension of my submission from last Tuesday entitled "Feeding Our Children Well." In that post I shared the recommended amounts of FRUITS, VEGETABLES, GRAINS, PROTEINS AND DAIRY FOODS for children ages 2-5 years of age. Today's post takes this information a step further and offers suggestions about how to add these healthy choices to your child's diet (and it is pretty good advice for adults as well!).
The following information comes from the USDA Department of Agriculture from 2011:
- Eat more red, orange and dark green vegetables in main dishes
- Add beans and peas to salads, soups and main dishes
- Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Look for "low sodium" and "no salt added"
- Use fruits as snacks, salads and desserts
- Top your cereal and pancakes with bananas and blueberries
- Buy fruits that are frozen, canned and dried (in water or 100% juice)
- Select 100% fruit juice when choosing juices
- Substitute whole grains choices for refined-grain breads
- Choose products that name a whole-grain first on the ingredients list
- Check the ingredients list on product labels for the words "whole" or "whole-grain"
- Eat a variety of foods such as seafood, beans, nuts, poultry and eggs
- Choose lean meats and ground beef at least 90% lean
- Trim or drain fat from meat and remove skin from poultry to cut fat and calories
- Dairy: (The following information is not from the USDA. These suggestions are my own based on my own experience and updated research.)
- Choose low-fat, low-sugar options for yogurt, ice cream, etc.
- Look for organic options to help reduce the use of hormones
- Recent information supports that organic whole milk and 2% are best for young babies and toddlers, as they offer the best source of calcium. Fat free milk contains an abundance of sugar with very little nutritional value.
- Try non-dairy options, such as unsweetened almond and coconut milks in cereals and oatmeal to begin to introduce other flavors to your child(ren)
*The bottom line? Make your food choices as natural and as basic as possible.
Beware of added sugars to sweeten multi-grain options! Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat, low-sugar dairy and grain options are the healthiest for you and your children!
I saw a version of this recipe in a children's magazine and thought it was perfect for Valentine's Day, which is just one week away! I made a few of my own changes to it, just to give it a little extra flavor!
It's an adorable activity you can do at home with your little ones or in the classroom if you have access to an oven.
What you will need:
Pizza dough (Buy at your local supermarket in the pizza section or visit your favorite local pizza shop and ask for a fresh ball of dough.)
A ball of mozzarella cheese (fresh is my favorite!)
Your favorite tomato sauce
Italian seasonings: basil, garlic and oregano
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Spray olive oil
A pizza pan (or my favorite - a pizza stone!)
A rolling pin
1. If you are using a metal pizza pan, spray it lightly with olive oil spray. If you are using a pizza stone there is no need to use spray. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Place the dough on your pan/stone and using your hands and rolling pin, flatten it into a heart-shape, crimping the edges to help it keep its shape.
3. Spread tomato sauce on top of the dough and spread to the edges, leaving just a ½ inch of dough along the edge.
4. Slice the mozzarella cheese into thin circles and place generously on top of the sauce
5. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and your three Italian seasonings
6. Cut the pepperoni pieces into heart-shaped pieces and place on pizza
7. Add a quick dash of the olive oil across the top of the pizza
8. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes and wait until edges are golden and cheese is bubbling! Enjoy!
*If you would like to make your own dough, here is a recipe from the http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/homemade_pizza website you could try:
You will need:
1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Steps to make the dough:
1. In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid), add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes.
2. Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. *If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand. If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle on a bit more flour.
3. Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or several hours longer, a longer rise will improve the flavor). If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Let the oven cool till it is just a little warm then place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.
Hope All Are Staying Warm and Safe this Winter Season!
We recently enjoyed a visit to our local library for an artsy and informative toddler class. While there, the instructor handed out an extensive packet of information about healthy eating habits, smart food- shopping ideas, healthy recipes for kids and so on. Much of the information came from the www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers.html website and offered some wonderful concrete examples of what a healthy toddler diet should look like, which I am sharing with you today!
For 2 year old children, they need the following:
- Fruits: 1 cup
- Vegetables: 1 cup
- Grains: 3 ounces
- Proteins: 2 ounces
- Dairy: 2 cups
For 3 year old children, they need the following:
- Fruits: 1-1 ½ cups
- Vegetables: 1 ½ cups
- Grains: 4-5 ounces
- Proteins: 3-4 ounces
- Dairy: 2 cups
For 4-5 year old children, they need the following:
- Fruits: 1-1 ½ cups
- Vegetables: 1 ½ -2 cups
- Grains: 4-5 ounces
- Proteins: 3-5 ounces
- Dairy: 2 ½ cups
So what exactly do these amounts look like on your child's plate?? Here are some "real food" examples to help you know what each measurement would be in "real life."
½ cup of fruit =
- ½ cup of mashed, sliced or chopped fruit
- ½ cup 100% fruit juice
- ½ medium banana
- 4-5 large strawberries
½ cup of vegetables =
- ½ cup of mashed, sliced or chopped vegetables
- 1 cup of raw leafy greens
- ½ cup of vegetable juice
- 1 small ear of corn
1 ounce of grains =
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 cup of cereal
- ½ cup cooked rice or pasta
- 1 tortilla
1 ounce of protein =
- 1 ounce of cooked meat, poultry or seafood
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- ¼ cup of beans
½ cup of dairy =
- ¼ cup of milk
- 4 ounces of yogurt
- ¾ ounce of cheese
- 1 string of cheese
*You will notice that SUGAR is not one of the food groups listed.
Of course there is nothing wrong with giving your child a bowl of ice cream, animal crackers or cookies and milk after school, but keep treats as something special and not as the main meal!
We are teaching them eating habits that will last a lifetime!
Here is my new favorite recipe! I made these for my family a few weeks ago and we made them in our preschool on Tuesday. Most of the children and all of the adults loved them! When I made them at home, my 4 year old helped. We set up an assembly line to get the zucchinis dipped, breaded and ready to be cooked. Her task was to put the raw zucchini sticks in the flour, roll them around and then place them in the egg. She did a great job! She also informed me during the process that she did NOT want to eat them, BUT she would help make them. I assured her that after all her hard work she should surely want to taste the delicious meal she helped to create! Both she and my husband were fearful to taste these healthy spears, but once they did, they were both happily surprised and there were no leftovers!
Crispy Zucchini Sticks
You will need:
Olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 egg white(s), lightly beaten
1 cup(s) seasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup of
1-2 medium uncooked zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into twelve 1-inch sticks (Cut zucchini in half and slice into sticks, removing seeded area
Ranch dressing for dipping
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
2. In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt and pepper. Place egg whites in a separate dish. Mix breadcrumbs and parmesan and place in another separate shallow dish.
3. Cut zucchini into sticks
4. Roll zucchini in flour mixture; turn to coat.
5. Remove and dip zucchini in egg whites; turn to coat.
6. Remove and roll zucchini in breadcrumbs and turn to coat.
7. Place coated zucchini on prepared baking sheet in a single layer and coat with cooking spray.
8. Bake until golden brown, flipping once or twice. Cook about 40 minutes total, remove and let them cool about 5 minutes or so before eating
9. Dip zucchini sticks in your favorite ranch dressing and enjoy!
These are a wonderfully healthy but really tasty treat ideal for Super Bowl Sunday!
With the continual artic air bursts and snowy clippers traveling through the better half of the United States, many children are enjoying snow days off from school and spending extra time at home with family. One of the downsides of all this time off from school is also missed speech therapy appointments. If you find yourself home for the day with your own little speech student, here are 10 ways to incorporate some meaningful speech and language into your stay-at-home escapade!
1. Kitchen Time! - This is always my favorite part of a snow day! Cooking and baking lots of yummy food for my family to eat. Try including your child in the process and focus on the vocabulary of what you are doing and using. See if they can name the ingredients for you and then recall them at the end.
2. Review speech homework! - If your child's speech therapist has sent work home for them to practice over the last several months, bring it out and review it with your child. Help to reinforce the carryover from therapy.
3. Get creative! - Take out some of paper, glue, water color paints and crayons and start creating! Last week during our snow days I brought out the play doh - it's messy and therefore not an everyday activity for us, but perfect for a long morning in our pjs while the storm blows outside!
4. Do the things you've been meaning to do but don't have time for! - If you had a new game you wanted to play with your child or maybe a special toy from the holidays you haven't had time to try, a snow day may be the perfect time!
5. Reach Out! - Make some phone calls so your little one can practice their conversational skills. Say HI to Grandma or a favorite cousin and help your little one talk about their snow day.
6. Build a pillow fort! - My girls love doing this! Take out pillows, blankets and have a ball! Bring your books and a flashlight inside and have a spooky story-time!
7. Play Dress Up! - Get out some fancy clothes, winter accessories like scarves and hats, maybe some old beads and silly slippers and make-believe you are all princesses in a castle, warriors in the wilderness or firefighters putting out a blaze. Let your child's imagination run wild!
8. Make Cards for friends and family members - Snow days are a great time to make the thank you cards you've been meaning to send or get a jump start on your child's classroom Valentines! Name the students in their class, chose the colors and images that represent St. Valentine's Day and do something nice for others!
9. Have an indoor picnic! - Make lunchtime special by laying out a blanket and setting up a real picnic! Have your little one tell you what you need for mealtime - cups, plates, napkins, etc. and of course, help you create a yummy menu!
10. GO OUTSIDE! Once the snow settles and the weather is right, bundle up your crew and go out! Plan to make a snowman and bring out what you will need. Go sledding! Give your little one a broom and bucket and have them help you shovel the snow. All these activities are hands-on and will provide opportunity to build vocabulary and promote communication.
Happy Winter to All! Stay Safe and Warm this week!
If you are living in the northeast section of the United States then you are right in the middle of the "polar vortex" as the news channels have so affectionately been calling our consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures. Whenever we have snow days, one of my absolute favorite things to do is cook and bake for my family. I immediately begin to plan out our meals and look for new recipes to try. For this past storm I decided to make a hearty Venison stew. My husband is a hunter so I often use venison when I make roasts and stews. For those of you who are unfamiliar or even leery of venison as many people are, I would like to reassure you that it is both delicious and healthy for you and your family. To learn more, Wikipedia offers this definition:
"Venison may be eaten as steaks, tournedos, roasts, sausages, jerky and minced meat. It has a flavor reminiscent of beef, but is richer and can have a gamey note. Venison tends to have a finer texture and is leaner than comparable cuts of beef. However, like beef, leaner cuts can be tougher as well....Venison is higher in moisture, similar in protein and lower in calories, cholesterol and fat than most cuts of grain-fed beef, pork, or lamb. Venison has enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent years, owing to the meat's lower fat content. It can often be obtained at less cost than beef by hunting (in some areas a doe license can cost as little as a few dollars); many families use it as a one to one substitute for beef, especially in the US mid-south, Midwest, Mississippi Valley and Appalachia. In many areas, this increased demand has led to a rise in the number of deer farms".
Warming Winter Stew
(serves 10-12 people generous portions)
You will need:
Beef or Venison cubes
Yukon Gold potatoes cut into cubes
2 packets of slow cooker stew seasoning
*Note this is a slow cooker recipe so allow for about 30 minutes or so of prep time and 3 cooking hours.
1. Pour 2 cups of beef broth into slow cooker and let it warm on HIGH.
2. Cube the meat and add to the broth along with a ½ packet of the slow cooker stew seasoning
3. Let the meat cook in the seasoned broth for approximately 10 minutes
4. Cut the potatoes, onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery into bite-sized pieces
5. Separately on the stove, add about 2 cups of beef broth to a medium sized pot and sauté the mushrooms and onions together for about 15 minutes
6. Add all the vegetables to the meat in the slow cooker
7. Pour in the remaining beef broth
8. Add the remaining seasoning packet and an additional second packet to the slow cooker broth, as well as 2 and ½ cups of water (follow directions on the back of the packet).
9. Mix everything together, place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for approximately 3 hours.
10. Spoon into bowls and serve with warm crusty bread and enjoy!
In September 2013 I wrote several posts addressing a medical condition known as Tuberous Sclerosis. I am currently treating a child diagnosed with this complex genetic disorder and have been working hard to find the best ways to address the child's communication needs. When I wrote those posts, several readers commented sharing resources and insights about the condition and where to find helpful information. One of the resources suggested was http://www.tsalliance.org/ which stands for "Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance" and has proven to be a helpful source of information for me.
One ongoing problem of TS which is discussed in depth on the website is the issue of active seizures. This is also something that plagues my student and the family daily. Concerns connected to identifying, understanding and treating the seizures is an ongoing battle. There are various schools of thought and medical professionals do not always agree. Treatment is complex and intricate and all of it affects our therapy sessions. The TS alliance website shares a thorough description of the various types of seizures an individual diagnosed with TS may have:
Eighty to 90% of individuals with TSC have epilepsy at some point in their lives. Many children with TSC are diagnosed with TSC in infancy after they begin having a type of seizure called infantile spasms. Older children and adults may develop multiple types of seizures including generalized, complex partial and other focal seizures.
Types of Seizures
Generalized Seizures - Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain. They can cause an alteration of consciousness, either briefly or for a longer period of time.
Myoclonic seizures - These seizures are brief contractions of body muscles that are rapid and usually on both sides of the body. Sometimes they may involve one arm or a foot.
Atonic seizures - These seizures can cause a person to fall without warning. They can also cause his/her head to drop, or have loss of posture without warning.
Absence seizures - These seizures are associated with staring that lasts only for seconds. There is no after-effect or warning when these seizures occur. Because of the subtleness, these seizures are very hard to identify and a teacher may think the child is simply day dreaming.
Infantile Spasms - Onset of infantile spasms peaks between four and six months of age, but can occur anytime in the first two years. Infantile spasms are seizures that result in sudden jerks involving all or part of the body in a forward or backward motion. It can be as subtle as a slight bob of the head or a thrust of the chin, but over time the seizures usually become more pronounced and occur in clusters of many seizures.
Partial Seizures - Partial seizures affect one side or area of the brain. There are two types of partial seizures:
- Simple partial seizures - These seizures do not cause unconsciousness and can cause sudden jerking and sensory issues, but not always. They last approximately 90 seconds. There might be weakness or loss of sensation.
- Complex partial seizures - There might be precursors to this seizure such as picking at clothes, wandering, lip smacking, and lack of environment awareness. They last one to two minutes, and the individual may have confusion, loss of memory, and/or sleepiness following the seizure.
Learning about TS and how it affects the child I am working with has been empowering. If you have additional info about tuberous sclerosis and other seizure-related conditions, please share your comments here. I will continue to write intermittently about this complex disorder.