Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Importance of Visual Discrimination

So, last week I jotted down some of my tips for developing Visual Foreground and Background Perception.  Today, I will be talking about Visual Discrimination.

Visual Discrimination is the ability to notice visual similarities and differences between objects, pictures and symbols.  Mastering this skill forms the foundation to sorting, matching and categorizing.  It is essential for educational activities like reading, spelling and mathematics where students need to notice small differences in letters and numbers.

How would you know a students has insufficient Visual Discrimination?
  • This student will find it difficult to distinguish between figures, letters and words.  They will confuse words like bad and dad, or numbers like 1 and 7.  This student will not be able to observe the differences.
  • These students will be unable to sort and classify, maybe according to color, shape, size and/or type.
  • They struggle to observe minor difference in pictures, patterns and drawings, which may result in difficulty differentiating between letters, figures and words.

  • Sorting activities according to color, shape, size, length, thickness, pattern and brightness.
  • Matching activities:  Matching images, patterns and shapes that are the same.
  • Give students two pictures that are the same except for a few differences and let them find the differences in the picture.
  • Build vocabulary to help the student better describe objects, e.g.  bigger, smaller, thicker, longer, further etc.
  • Let students sort pictures and/or objects to fit with a certain theme.
  • Picture dominoes where students have to match same images together.
  • Identifying images which are the same when they are placed in a row.
This Roll 'n Find Flower Game is perfect to develop Visual Discrimination.

Children need to roll the three dice and then find the flower with all three colors on in.  It not only develops Visual Discrimination but also Concentration skills, Visual Foreground and Background, Color Recognition and Scanning Skills.  Should you be interested in this game, you can purchase it here.

I hope I have offered some ideas on how to help your students with poor Visual Discrimination.

Monday, 14 September 2015

A FREE Week of wordy Wisdom - Week 8

Last week I bundled the seven first weeks of A Week of Wordy wisdom together to offer to you at a reduced price.  I thought it only fitting to create the next week and offer it as a FREEBIE.  You can download it at the end of this post.  Be sure to read through and download the other activities and worksheets which fit in with Week 8 of A Week of Wordy Wisdom.

I love the idea of children acknowledging what their dreams are.  When I ask my daughter, the answer can change from day to day but it means that she is thinking about what it is that she wants and how she can achieve it.

We made this Dream Catcher the other day and I though it would be perfect for this week's motivational quote.  I used the below template (that I got here) to show her how to thread the dream catcher so it was not only fun but involved following instructions and a pattern/method.

If you put little pegs at the bottom of the dream catcher, they can be used to peg up dreams and goals. The pegs offer an opportunity to interchange the dream as they are obtained.
For older students you may want something a little more challenging and therefore rewarding.  This website offers a lovely tutorial on how to make 'real' dream catchers.  Students will love using their new acquired skill.  I would suggest you watch the video and then show your students how to do it.

Lol, this cartoon made me smile, although kind of defeats the point of working together to get the job done :).  By clicking on the image you will be taken to a YouTube video where the artist draws the cartoon from scratch.  It would be a good conversation starter as there would be students who have chores at home and how do they feel about it?

This next video is a perfect example of how a number of people worked together to achieve a goal.  The video is not in English and there is not much talking so sound is not even necessary when watching it.

My spelling website for this week is  I especially love this Spiderman game.  It is serious addictive (I think I said that about last week's game, but I really couldn't stop!).  The game gives you a set of letter and then the player needs to make as many words using the letters as possible.  Each time the letter is used and a word is formed, the same letters appear to be used to form different words.  

The 'bonus' round involves filling in the missing letter of the word to complete it.

You can also download the weekly FREE word searches to go with the K - 2 Word for Wednesday here. 

We always end the week with a silly joke.  With this joke, you may wish to discuss the differences between moths and butterflies.  These rules have exceptions but provide a guideline to what makes them different:

  • Moths are active at night whereas butterflies are active during the day.
  • Moths and butterflies hold their wings differently.  Moths either lay their wings flat along their backs or spread out to the sides.  Butterflies tend to hold their wings upright, next to each other on their backs.
  • Moth bodies are often hairier and plumper than a butterfly.
  • Usually butterflies have brighter colored wings.
  • The antennae of a butterfly is often long and thin with a club shape at the end of it, whereas a moth tends to have thicker, more feathery looking antennae.
Well that is this week's version of A Week of Wordy Wisdom.  Head to my store to download this week for FREE.  If you find it useful for your class, you may want to purchase the individual weeks or the bundle at a reduced price.

Enter the Giveaway below to stand a chance of winning A Week of Wordy Wisdom Bundle.

Download the FREE Week 8 by clicking on the image below:

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Importance of Visual Foreground/Background Development

I often use my Remedial Therapy training at home with my children, to help ensure that they get the stimulation to develop the skills needed for school and learning.  Today I thought to jot down the importance of Visual Foreground/Background development and a few easy ways to practice and encourage it.

Figure-ground perception is one of the Visual Perceptual Skills.  It is the ability to discriminate one object from another with a busy background.  This is also known as Visual Foreground-Background. With the acquired skill, students are able to bring the focused object to the front and let everything else drift into the background.  Examples of this could be:

  • spotting a bird in the tree.
  • identifying the blue square in a box of shapes (when colors and shapes are already known).
  • finding a word in a sentence.
Students who have not acquired this perceptual skill may have trouble: 
  • reading - they lose there place in the sentence or on the page.
  • copying or reading from the board.
  • finding a certain pencil in a cluttered pencil bag.
  • completing instructions like fetching a certain book from the shelf.
  • staying focused on work presented on the board or screen - they will lose their place.
Some activities which I do with my children to help aid the development of this skill include:
  • Sorting objects by searching for certain ones first e.g pasta shapes, foam letters or shapes, blocks, Nespresso pods.
  • Sorting socks and matching them to form pairs.
  • Playing "I  spy..." in the garden, in a picture book or around the house (if your child/student is not familiar with the alphabet yet, search for colors, shapes or specific objects).
  • Building Jig-Saw puzzles - focus on the small details.
  • Printable age appropriate mazes.
  • Printable worksheets where students have to color and search for certain objects.

My daughter is busy learning becoming more familiar with the alphabet.  Below you can see her completing one of my Alphabet Foreground and Background Coloring pages.  She first identified which letter she needs to color in and then the corresponding picture.  She also practiced her letter formation by completing the sentence at the bottom of the page.

Should you be interested in these fun coloring pages, visit my TpT store by clicking on the image below.  You can download the first page for FREE from the Preview so be sure to test before you buy.

Monday, 7 September 2015

So Easy, No Cook Play Dough

I make a lot of play dough for my children.  I prefer the home made version because you can make it in your choice of color and a lot of it.  The little store bought tubs just don't give me the quantity that I want (unless I buy a basket load at a hefty price).

I always use a cooked recipe which is quick and easy but I often leave the situation with burnt hands from kneading in the coloring.

Last night I posted a question in one of the Facebook groups which I belong to, asking if there was a way to add coloring to the water or flour before cooking to avoid burnt hands and a colored wooden spoon.  (After posting the question, I did have a brainwave - that I should leave the cooked play dough to cool before mixing in the color - easy enough.)

Anyway, one of the group's members gave me a recipe for a non-cook play dough.  I was skeptical as I love my recipe and the dough that is formed.  It is soft and lasts a long time.

But, I decided that I would attempt it and see if it is great,

Well, let me tell you!  I have been converted from a play dough cooker to a play dough mixer.

It was so quick and easy!  I mixed it up in 5 minutes - if that much!

My friend was happy for me to share the recipe here with a few of my own alterations.  I felt it needed a bit more flour, food coloring to give it a child friendly color and some vanilla essence for some scent.  Here is my version of the recipe:

I am actually still waiting to see what is wrong with it.  Maybe it will become a solid rock or moldy or smelly.  I'll let you know if I have a negative experience.  And please, let me know how your batch turns out.

But for now, this is my new and only way!

Friday, 4 September 2015

A Week of Wordy Wisdom - Week 7

Week 7 is a bit late due to the party preparations that have been going on in my household,  It was my son's second birthday and I became totally wrapped up in it.  That was on Saturday, so I am back to my normal routine and am able to blog again.

So here we go...

Students are so easily affected by others.  Negative feedback and influences and dampen a child's self esteem and result in negative self thoughts.  Today's quote aims to encourage students find their sparkle and to not let others negatively influence them.

Use this worksheet in conjunction with the quote, where students are encouraged to identify what makes them 'sparkle'.  Download them here.

 Children are often totally oblivious to the value of money.  They expect their parents to dig deep every time they want something.  It is a difficult concept for them, especially if they are not 'earning' any money.  They think it is always readily available - don't I wish.

This proverb focuses on the important things in life being free.  Let students brainstorm fun activities that are free.  You will probably notice that these activities that they come up with are ones with loved ones.

This website has a useful list of ideas for FREE activities to suggest to your students.

Are you looking for some extra spelling games?  I am loving this website.  There are a variety of spelling games.  My favorite is the Letter Blocks game.  I got caught playing it and could not stop.  What is great about this game is it does not matter what the reading level of the child, they can still play because they search for words of their ability.

You need to build words by linking letters that are toughing one another.  Once those tletters have been used, they disappear and extra letters get added at intervals. There are more than enough sight word options to keep first and second graders enthusiastic but then the combinations can also reveal more challenging words for students looking for them.  Give it a go, you might get hooked :)

Grab your free word searches to correspond with this week's word of the day for K - 2 by clicking on the image below:

 The fact for this week will result in students wanting to try it out.  Give them an opportunity to do so and discuss what it making the fact true.  You do not need any resources for this and it will result in a lot of giggles.  Anticipate students doing it randomly on the playground with their friends. :)

This joke is more of a riddle.  You may want to read the riddle to the students first and give them an opportunity to ponder the answer before revealing it to them.

If you find these activities interesting and are wanting to purchase the set of posters which goes along with them, please visit my TpT store by clicking on the image below.

This marks the first seven weeks of the year of A Week of Wordy Wisdom.  I have bundled the first seven weeks together and am offering them at a reduced price in my store.  Each week has a link back to my blog to the appropriate week of information and activities to correspond with the posters for that week.

Download the preview to get an idea of what Week 1 is all about.  Purchase it here.

You can also grab Week 8 for FREE by clicking HERE.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Adam's Worm Party

I have been absent from blogging for the past week so so because it was Adam's birthday party and despite the many half started posts along the way to fill you in on what I was doing, I was not able to actually finish and post them.  So this is a condensed version containing the basics and then throughout the week I will add more about how I made everything and recipes etc.

The theme this year was Worms.  Adam is only two (I say 'only' with tears in my eyes as I can't believe the time has gone by so quickly!)  and I wanted to do a theme that was not done by one of our 'baby' group friends (we all attend each others parties).  I settled on Worms.  The invitation was such fun to make and it got me stuck into a world of worms!

I had a wonderful time making the birthday cake.  I baked the individual circles in ceramic and glass dishes I found in my cupboard and lined them with baking paper - it worked perfectly!  And I love the outcome!

To think of some eats for a Worm party can be quite a task.  No one wants to eats worms or something that too closely resembles one.

I found this absolutely delicious recipe from Chelsea Winter (you might have come across her name in previous posts).  It is a Glorious Sausage Quiche and I thought that, if positioned properly, the caramelized onions could look like little worms creeping out of the pastry baskets.  I forgot to take a photo of them on the table because they were warming in the oven when I had an opportunity to take photos, but this is a photo of the left overs - there were only four.  They were delicious and were thoroughly enjoyed.  I made them before the time and froze them.  After thawing over night, I popped them in the oven to crisp up.

I also made mini 'worm'dogs and chicken burgers.  Tomato ketchup was put on the side for parents to add if their children wanted.

These 'Stuffed worms'  were a lot of fun to make and children enjoyed the anticipation of finding out what was inside of it.

A delicious Chocolate Cheesecake acted as a 'Wormy mud pie'  Yum - if I do say so myself.  This I too made a week before the party and froze it.

Worm pots is an idea I picked up on Pinterest.  I used an instant chocolate pudding, Oreos and some sugared worms.

I added some 'Juicy worms' in the form of grapes and pineapple.

And then there were these little suckers.  You might not see them in the photo of the table of eats because they were not there.  I found them in the pantry AFTER everyone had left!  It seems every party I throw, I forget to put something out.  One year it was mini jellies, another it was ice creams and this year it was the biscuits I painstakingly rolled, cut and iced (after trying two recipes and making my own cutter.) Have you done the same? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.  Then maybe I won't feel so bad :)

Well, that was it.  Stay tuned for the rest of the posts on the party actvities, recipes and How Tos.

I hoped you enjoyed these ideas and they offer you some inspiration for your parties in the future.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Chocolate Cheesecake Yumminess

So it is just over a week before Adam's birthday party and I decided to get myself organized and start baking.

This morning, while Adam was sleeping and Megan at school, I decided to bake a cheesecake that would form part of the eats for the adults - although, I know Megan will probably be first in the line for a slice.

Fortunately it is rather rich so small slices can be cut and therefore I only need one.

A few weeks ago I found this delicious Chocolate Cheesecake here, and watched the video tutorial to get an idea of how to make it.  It seemed pretty straight forward so I decided to bake one for a group of friends as a trial run.  OH MY!!!!  It was so delicious, I now look for any excuse to bake one!!

I adapted the recipe ever so slightly to accommodate South African ingredients and used metric measurements.  The ingredients are not 'odd' so no matter where you are, you will find something similar.  You can download it here.

It looks all detailed and long and difficult but its really not.  I managed to get mine in the oven in 25 minutes and cleaned my kitchen in the 50 minutes it took to bake.  Plus I had an opportunity to drink a hot cup of coffee before Adam woke up.

I still need to add the ganache and then will freeze it for the party, which I will have to do quickly before I decide to sample it with my next cup of tea :)

I'll add a photo once it is done!

One thing down!  A whole list still to go :)

Monday, 17 August 2015

Summer Link Up - My Guilty Pleasure

Oh no!  Miss Monica from I Heart Grade 3 got us all involved in this Summer link Up and once she has our trust, she lays this topic on us: My Guilty Pleasure ;)

Lol, I was hoping it would stay a secret, just between me and my four walls (and every friend I've gone for coffee with)!  My guilty pleasure is ...

 CAKE... Glorious  CAKE!!
(Is your mouth watering after all those delicious treats?)

Well, actually, any baked goods or pies or doughnuts will do :)

Fruit cake! Vanilla Cake! Chocolate cake!  Apple pie!  Pavlova! Cheese Cake!!! All equally yummy!

The delicious images above are from Chelsea Winter's website.  She won a New Zealand Masterchef a few years back and although I don't live in New Zealand I found the ingredient availability similar to what we have here.  The ingredients are also simple and easy to find in the store - meaning, I find myself indulging in one of her recipes too fairly often.

I can't wait to read about all the Guilty Pleasures in this Link Up - maybe I won't feel as ashamed of myself for all the yumminess I enjoy so very much!  Thanks for the GREAT link up Monica :)

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