Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Feeding the Ducks

I love going to feed the ducks!  It's lucky that I do because I have spent much of the past 10 years doing it!  I wanted to write about this simple childhood activity because we have got so much out of it.  When our son's were born, our daughter was just two and we lived in a small town.  We were lucky to have a great nature area where there were lots of ducks to go and feed and it became part of our daily routine - town, ducks, park!  We all loved going, it was something we could all do together and it got to the point where I am convinced that the duck recognised our double buggy!! Well it just kept on until we moved and the boys went to school.  Although they had and still do have very little speech, one thing they could both say at that time was 'duck'.  They lost this when they lost the consistency of the activity and hearing the word which really highlights the need for repetition and routine in their learning.  Now we are home educating and live very close to a different flock of ducks, we're back at it.

This week we have been learning about animals and water so of course we had to go and feed the ducks.  Feeding the ducks actually means mum and dad feed the ducks and James and Charlie feed themselves.  This is the other great thing that we have got out of it.  They are both so restrictive about what they will eat and this was not helped by trying them on a gluten and dairy free diet several years ago.  After that we couldn't get them to eat bread at all.  They gradually started eating it again over many trips to feed the ducks when they were given a piece to hold and there was no pressure to do so.  Yay for the ducks!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Another Rainbow Ribbon Toy

I've been browsing various blogs and craft sites and keep seeing these little wooden hoop ribbon streamer toys.  So I decided to make one but adapt it to the boy's preference for objects that have handles, with the thought that it would probably be easier for them to manage this way.  I was trying to get one of those wooden spoons with a hole in the middle.  I don't think I've dreamt the existence of these but I couldn't find one anywhere!  What I did come across was a plastic paint stirrer with several holes which looked suitable.  Here is what it looked like when it was first made....

......and here is what it looks like now it has been personalised by James!


This is a rather late post about the stuff we did around Bonfire Night and fireworks. We've had illnesses, lost most of our pictures and then the laptop cable broke so not only is it late, but its lacking in visuals too!

We are finding one of the best resources for us is youtube! Our sons need to see something if it is to have any meaning to them so short video clips are ideal.  This worked brilliantly in terms of talking about fireworks. Its hard to get them to watch anything at length but no problem with this subject - I suppose you can't really get more visually stimulating than fireworks!  We tend to use video clips/images on the laptop at the same time as activities so we watched a few displays and then brought in the 'real' thing...

I found a great recipe on this website,,  for 'Chocolate Sparklers' made out of chocolate fingers dipped in sugar strands, (no pictures I'm afraid) which was so simple to do.  James enjoyed eating them as he took part and then once finished decorating them, proceeded to then remove all the decorations before he could contemplate eating them!!

We made several attempts at different craft activities. I'm trying to keep these ideas really simple. Anything too involved and lengthy is not a good idea.  I'm also trying to come up with ideas based around the way the boys like to play so for Charlie it would be very sensory based and for James its more about putting things 'in' something else and threading. We made a bonfire out of lolly sticks and orange/red tissues paper. No glue involved here. We looked at a photo and tried to recreate it by piling up the lolly sticks for the base and putting the flames in the middle. We also did a firework starting with a lump of play dough and sticking pipe cleaners in. Some we made into spirals by wrapping them around a pencil, others we left as they were and we just gave the boys the options to chose which they wanted to use. Its the pictures from these activities that we lost but I do have a picture of my ancient pipe cleaners saved from my own childhood!!!!!

Continuing on the theme of threading, we made some fireworks out of cardboard tubes and tinsel. Really, really simple.  Just threading the tinsel through the tube and holding it in place with an elastic band. 

We used these for a rather excitable re-enactment of a bonfire and firework display! We have a wonderful rug which I found on ebay a while ago which has lights running through it, so that was the bonfire, we had our mirror ball going, loads of party poppers for the bangs, blew balloons up and then let them whiz around, 'Light My Fire' playing really loud and we ran around the 'bonfire' with the tinsel fireworks. It was a lot of fun!!

Our touchy feely sensory activity was with our coloured rice. (Again!)  We just put a piece of black card on the base of our tray (I use cat litter trays) and threw handfuls of the rice in so we got the noise as well as the visual effect. 

At the end of the week we went to a real display, which the boys loved.  We are lucky in this respect I think, a lot of children on the autistic spectrum find this hard.  It was a great display but I always find it hard to know where to look as I get as much pleasure out of watching their faces as watching the fireworks!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Halloweeney 'Half Term'

I had big plans for quite a lot of activities in the week leading up to Halloween but Gaby was on half term, we had several visits from friends and therapists, a few half term activities to go to and we decided to just chill the rest of the time and give ourselves a half term!  We did however have a little Halloween tea party and a friend of James and Charlie's joined us. 

I sat both boys down with a pumpkin just with the idea that they would have a little investigation and wander off, but they were both very interested,

having a good look and feel of the pumpkin, then helping scoop all the seeds and pulp out.  I did the cutting out but both boys really enjoyed watching this and put the cut out bits into the bowl - lots of good sensory food related stuff going on here!!

As Charlie had loved playing with the water balloons recently, I did him some Halloween ones to play with for a few days.

I knitted a couple of Halloween themed toys for general play and to help talk about it all.  I might add to them next year.

We also had quite a lot of fun with this light up flashing pumpkin toy. Charlie is really entranced by these types of things and he did some brilliant communication whilst playing with it.  I made a point of only keeping it on for a minute or so at a time so he would have to ask for more which he did by signing more please in a very definite manner!

I did make some iced pumpkin shapes with orange squash too but they are still in the freezer! I'm going to be more organised next year.  I live very close to a supermarket and went in there and picked up a couple of bargains on 1st November! Including a rather gruesome bowl which I think they will love!

I tried to get the kids doing a few games at our party.  We did some apple bobbing.  Charlie was more than happy to stick his face in the water and lick the apples!  His sister added to the effect by emerging from this with a nosebleed! Oh dear!

I've done this coloured pasta in many situations, including previous Halloween parties.  You just need to add food colouring to the water as you cook it.  It works well in a pumpkin with toy creepy crawlies added, maybe a bit of hair gel for slime and little parcels of sweets wrapped up to find amongst it all with a forfeit attached.  I call it pass the pumpkin and get the children to pass it around to music as you would for 'pass the parcel'.  For the boys and their friend though, I simplified it down to 'Find the Finger!'  I had some chocolate fingers that they had to reach in for at random.  They all had a go - chocolate is a big motivator!

Besides that, we had fun with party poppers and silly string and listened to a spooky CD.  Oh and ate lots of cakes and stuff! That was enough for our guys and I think they enjoyed it!

Noisy Shakers

I had these 2 very large tubs lying around.  (They were those body building milkshake powdered drinks - not mine!!). Anyway, I thought they would make quite good musical shakers so my daughter and I painted them using black paint with some craft glue added to it.

I filled one with some kidney beans and the resulting noise was extremely loud so to try and have a contrast, we filled the other one with pistachio nut shells which both sounds and feels lighter!  I need to get the glue out and fix down the lids, although I'm in 2 minds about that as I could potentially change the sounds if I left them accessible.  This is not the sort of thing I would let the boys play with unsupervised anyway!