Saturday, May 7, 2016

Homeschooling Trevy: The Snowy Day

The more we use Before Five in a Row, the more we love it! I am not an affiliate. There is no gain in sharing how we're using this program or how much we love it. The only perk I get is knowing that it might help another family making the decision to homeschool their special child. I have been homeschooling "lite" with Trevy for years and only recently brought him home full time. He's thriving and it's a beautiful thing to witness.

I use the workbox system. One of the drawers is dedicated to our FIAR materials. I have the teacher's manual and a handful of books (some borrowed some bought) in the drawer. At the beginning of the week I let Trevy pick whichever book from the stack he'd like to focus on.

This week he chose The Snowy Day.

We read the book each day for a week and then complete enrichment activities to go along with it. Some of the activities are found in the teacher's manual but Pinterest and the FIAR forum are also wonderful resources.


Narration is a Charlotte Mason reading comprehension philosophy. Rather than spoon feeding the student questions to test their comprehension based on what the educator wants to hear or thinks is important, she emphasized allowing the student to share what they have learned and thought for themselves. Ownership is where true, deep to the core, learning happens. And always, always assume intelligence. Approach the child, including the Trevors of the world, respecting their minds and understanding that they have just as much to teach ME as I do them. This is just one layer of why I love the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy.

I've been gently introducing narration to Trevy this past year. I thought we'd reached the point where I could begin keeping formal (meaning I type what he speaks) narrations for evaluation and growth purposes. If he needs help with a prompt, I will prompt him with open ended questions. I do also love the Story Grammar Marker program's model and have a little bookmark to help guide him along systematically as well. But mostly, I want to see what HE knows and I try to let him organically share with me. Also noteworthy, I find with Trevor narration often happens long after we've finished our reading. This is important because it's a clue that he's thinking and processing these ideas on his own. 

Here is a sample of our first "formal" narration.

Me: Trevor, tell me what you remember about The Snowy Day.
I typed the following as he said it:
The poopy day. The poopy day. Poop. Poop. Poop. Poop.
(Insert mommy voice with the instruction to be serious or write sentences by hand! You'll notice his narration improved!)
He saw the snow. And he dreamed about sun melt away. Come back up the snow. And then it’s the end.
It's not perfect. It's certainly not grammatically correct. But he remembered BOTH the beginning and the end of the story! That's a big deal for a child who struggles with sequencing! And I confess, I did laugh at all the poops. Well, until the 15th. 14 and under are okay with me...15 is too much.

Speech & Language

There are so many ways to use rich literature for speech and language development. Reading aloud alone provides a plethora of new words and ideas which will build vocabulary. I am a huge believer in reading aloud!

One way to work on more formal speech and language would be to use words from the chosen book to work on articulation.

Trevor loves music and rhymes. I often try to find coordinating songs or chants.

I also use the Super Star Speech program daily with Trevor.


Here is a super cute video about the life cycle of a snowflake.

I also asked Trevy what he thought happened to the snowball Peter put in his pocket. He had NO idea. I decided this called for an experiment. We took a washcloth, put an ice cube on it, and then folded it like a pocket. I told Trevy we would check on our ice cube throughout the day to see what happens. He was so excited about the process that unbeknownst to me he added several more ice cubes! Which was fine by me. Also super adorable.

Trevor was completely amazed when the ice cubes were missing the last time we checked on them.

Fine Motor

I printed a snowy scene and hand wrote instructions on it to roll the dice and use play-doh to create that many snowballs for the scene. This activity is in his Picture Activity Schedule drawer which he uses with his homebased ABA program.


One thing I love is using the book choice of the week to create coordinating art. This week's inspiration came from Pinterest, I just added a little oral motor therapy piece to help build those weak mouth muscles for him.

I printed a cute Peter template which I found on Pinterest. I cut this out and had him finger paint it red. He always has a hard time with anything sensory, but once he's over the touch-me-not bump he gets a little wild! My whole paint tray was pretty much covered in red finger paint. Which is why I use a paint try in the first place!

I then had him use a straw to blow the snow along the bottom of the page. If you have a child with dysarthria, be aware that straw work WILL result in a lot of drool! That's okay, though. It just made the paint easier to move around. When he ran out of mouth stamina, his sister and I helped blow the snow a little more. Then he got to plop Peter on the page and wha-lah - ART!


I hope these ideas inspire other special needs moms as they work with their children! For more Before Five in a Row ideas you can check out my Pinterest page. 
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