Friday, April 30, 2010

Literacy Based Designs in Classroom Furniture

One of the most important things a teacher can do is to develop in children the desire to read. In Kindergarten through second grade students are learning to read. From third grade on they are reading to learn. No matter what grade classroom you teach in, having literacy based designs in classroom furniture can help enhance in students the desire to read.

Having an area of your room dedicated solely to books is important. You can have some special chairs or pillows. Maybe some bean bags or cushions that make the area cozy. But most importantly, you want to display books in a way that makes them easily accessible to the children. As well as accessibility, you want an appealing way of presenting the books.

Having a book display such as the Book Browser by Jonti-Craft allows students to easily see the books from which they can choose. They can look over the books based on their covers and easily read the titles. This is especially important for younger students who still rely mostly on the pictures to tell them if they are interested in a book. The power of choice also adds to children’s desire to read.

In addition to a book display, you can also have a unique and appealing bookcase. There are many bookcases available that are shaped and designed in ways that make them very interesting to children.  
No matter how you choose to display your reading area, choose a way that will draw children into the area. Making reading fun and making choosing a book an adventure will help students develop a love for reading that will last for years to come.

In addition to having an area just for books, any classroom would benefit from having a classroom rug dedicated to promoting literacy. There are many classroom rugs available that display the alphabet in unique ways. This is a perfect way to engage students in reading or spelling games. Students love trying to spell a word by jumping on letters or rolling a ball to a friend who is sitting on a letter. The possibilities with this kind of a classroom rug are many.

For teachers interested in promoting a bilingual literacy in school, there are classroom rugs available that teach both English and Spanish or English and French. Carpets such as the Amigos Bilingual Educational Rug teach English and Spanish words with pictures. This is a great way to promote literacy in the classroom and also a great way to make learning a second language fun.

Whatever you decide to do to promote literacy within your classroom, consider making your classroom furniture part of the plan. A well set-up classroom with areas just for reading and areas that promote reading no matter what the subject is, are appealing to both children and parents. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can a Toy Box Save your Sanity?

Over the last few years, building contractors have made the average home a lot larger. As a consumer nation we have a tendency to buy things and lots of it. Modern day young people are the greatest benefactor of the bigger houses as they tend to get more toys than previous generations. More toys means more things laying around. The solution is a toy box! When it's time to tidy up, you might wonder what to do with the pile of toys in your own family room. 

Should you arrange them and put them back on shelving each day, or should you toss them all in a closet and trust nobody opens the door?  The answer's neither of them, because the proven best strategy is putting the items in one of the many models of toy boxes offered on the market today. You may well have had a variety of storage solutions when you were a toddler, and it's likely reassuring to understand that these are found in an even wider selection these days. Many in kids favorite themes and some with new shapes.  

Toy Boxes

Your decision should rely on your preferences and the room's decor. You could choose solid colored wood of course, however you can also get artsy taking into consideration the range of options readily available nowadays. A few folks choose to let their youngsters help them pick their toy boxes, in that case you will most likely end up with something more colorful. Small children are probably going to like toy boxes that match their favorite theme, film, or character. Fire engines, vehicles, sports, fairies, dolls, and princesses are all common themes on a lot of toy boxes.  You might also get ones that have the names, mascots, and colors of your youngster's favourite sports teams. Actually, if obtaining a special item for your kid's area is important, you may think about getting their name on it.

Parents who really like useful items will be satisfied to know that many toy boxes also serve as benches. You can never have sufficient seating in a kid's room, as reading, watching shows, require a place to sit. Getting some pillows or cushions on this kind of kids's furniture is a preferred option. 

Your child is certain to love this new piece of organizational furniture, and you will love the indisputable reality that you now possess a   fascinating place to put all of the toys. So if you're seeking for another piece of kids'furniture to fill up your youngster's room while getting rid of the litter of tons of toys; you have discovered it.  The better part of checking out toy boxes is allowing your kid to help you pick it out.  You are certain to find a product that suits both of your preferences while encouraging your house to remain as clean and organized as possible.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There Are Two Forms of Autism

Genetic – Symptoms can present themselves within the first few months to a year old.

Environmental – Parents feel that there child was typically on track with sudden regression.

Unfortunately most doctors prefer to wait to diagnose a child with autism.  Depending on parent’s assertiveness a diagnosis of autism is given between 2 ½ and 4 years of age.  I personally don’t believe it matters if your child has a diagnosis or not, the key to getting on top of autism is aggressive early intervention.  The older the child the more habitual patterns are set into their path.

Early Signs of Autism

Rolling Over – A healthy, more organized baby will roll over with ease, legs are extended as the back initiates the roll.  When a baby ‘can’t’ roll over or eventually learns to throw his legs up into the air and allows their weight to bring him over to his side.

Not Recognizing Faces – Babies love to look at faces as they quickly learn from your expressions.  A pre-autistic behavior is not looking into your eyes or reading your face.  Notice if your child is looking away from you or through you. 

Not Responding to Babble – Babies love to copy you sticking your tongue in and out.  Smacking their lips, smiling and soon they are making sounds.  Notice if you are trying very to get your babies attention or if interaction is forced.  Keep an eye out if your child is not interested in having a ‘conversation’ with you.

Lack of Name Recognition – Mom and Dad will start to see eye movement that leads to excitement when a child hears their name or certain words, ‘hungry, milk, dog, brother, etc.’

Cranky or Fussy – Your child’s colic seems to go on forever.  Parents might not realize that sensory issues are kicking in at a very early age.  A parent needs to work with a doctor to rule out health issues.  Parents should also take note if a child can’t tolerate tags, certain textures of clothing, needing their blanket or toy to go everywhere so they can sooth their child.

Warnings signs for regression after your child is one:

Non-responsive - A healthy child starts to look if you say 'Where's Daddy? Where's the ball?" Suddenly you find yourself repeating it or saying it louder.  Needing to touch or prompt your child to get their attention.

Staring - Babies and toddlers work the room.  You don't loose a child into a good TV show until they're a few years older.  If they seem like they're zoning out or loosing track of what they are doing or obsessing over one item for a length of time.

Sensory & Touch - Babies and toddlers like to explore there environment.  If they once enjoyed food & getting messy now the suddenly have fear of smells, messes, touch and/or sounds.

Fear - Does your child suddenly have fears?  Does the child suddenly cling to a parent or have separation anxiety?  Lost a sense of calm or peace that they previously had?

Slouching - Babies and toddlers with a healthy nervous system don't slouch.  Your child might suddenly seem heavy to pick up or carry around.  They're not 'laid back' or easy going. Young children should be curious about the world around them. 

About the Author:

Michelle M. Turner uses her personal experience with her professional training to help children avoid the same route that her son had to take.  Through a series of gentle, enjoyable movements, your child will display noticeable improvements in motion and awareness of his or her body.  She can show viewers how to increase mobility and improve cognitive functions and communication skills.

To see any of these behaviors, knowing in your gut that something’s not right and your child isn’t acting like your sister’s child is to act.  It’s amazing what a child’s system starts to tell you.  To work with the spine, particularly at the base where it meets the pelvis can tell me so much about how the brain has begun to organize its system. 

To work with a baby, anyone for that matter is to respect them.  I let them know who I am and what I’m there to help them do.  I don’t always work with the head or the feet on the first session because these areas of their body can be very personal to them. 

Michelle Turner
Movement & Pain Specialist
Movement Lesson, LLC.

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Working with children to seniors - teaching you how to move.

Plaza Del Rio Commercial Center
9401 W. Thunderbird Road, Suite 110
Peoria, AZ 85381

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friendship Counts with Kids with Autism

In the new television series Parenthood, we meet a boy named Max and his parents, who are coming to grips with Max's diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. His parents are frustrated and overwhelmed with Max's behavior. Finally, they hire a behavioral therapist who has a special way of not only teaching Max how to be more social, but she also helps his mom release the constant stress that haunts this mysterious disorder.

You may think that you don't know enough about autism to help a family like Max's, but the simple act of friendship is critical no matter the circumstances. However, give and you shall receive is a core principle of building healthy relationships. You have a lot to give to a family affected by autism, but they also have something to offer you. We can't close our eyes to these needs, because as we come alongside of these kids we experience new purpose in our own lives. But no one said it would be easy.

A simple shopping trip used to result in a meltdown for my friend Caleb Bundy (9). He would fall to the floor, screaming and slapping his honey-blond head. His senses became overwhelmed in busy, noisy stores. Caleb was born with chromosome deletion which resulted in global delay and a secondary diagnosis of autism. However, after four months of therapies such as social scripting and behavior modification, Caleb was able to enjoy shopping with his mom and brother.

I've enjoyed spending time with Caleb, but the first time I came to his home he kept his distance. He watched me when he thought I wasn't looking. He didn't respond to my questions, or want to give me a hug when I left. But I wasn't discouraged. I knew that in time, if I let Caleb lead the way, I could show him love by being his friend. On a recent visit, we had a breakthrough. I entered his house with a gift box that I sat on the floor. His curiosity drew him to the package, and soon we were both sitting on the floor touching the bright colored paper. Then, he lost interest and wandered into his room, waiting to see if I would follow. I did and took the chance to sing softly with the rhythm instruments from his toy box. At dinner, Caleb watched me and smiled when I included him in the conversation. He played with the wooden cars from the gift box. After his bath, Caleb snuggled next to me on the couch, putting my arm around his shoulder. As the family played a word game, he joined in with single-word answers, surprising us all. Caleb's actions showed me that he felt loved and accepted, which was an answer to my prayers.

Joni Eareckson Tada, founder of Joni and Friends International Disability Center (and my boss), suggests at least four benefits you will receive as you form relationships with those with disabilities:
  • You will find someone with whom to share your struggles
  • You will find someone to remind you of the grace of God
  • You will find someone to slow you down
  • You will find someone to stretch you as a person
I have found this to be true in my life. I challenge you to make it your goal to meet one person with autism and take steps to become his or her friend. It is just that simple. By Pat Verbal National Autism Awareness Month in April is a great time to educate yourself about autism. Joni and Friends has created an excellent new resource that can help. Making Sense of Autism is a two-part TV episode by Joni and Friends that takes you into the lives of families affected by autism to witness their joy and frustrations. It includes videos and study guides that can be taught as a half-day seminar or a four-week series. Hosted by Joni Eareckson Tada, it features advice from parents, pastors, experts and teachers who are addressing the issues of autism. To learn more visit

Pat Verbal, Manager of Curriculum Development
Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Second Chance: How Adoption Saved a Boy with Autism and His Shelter Dog

PBS Kids named Second Chance: How Adoption Saved a Boy with Autism and His Shelter Dog by Sandra J. Gerencher of Bethlehem, Pa. to its "Great Books About Adoption" recommended reading list in the nonfiction category.

The timeless tale of a boy (with autism) and his (shelter) dog. Over the past 10 years, author Sandra Gerencher has been on a mission to save dogs from high-kill animal shelters. Her first rescue was P.J., the black and white Pomeranian in the story. She also adopted the orange Pomeranians Shelby and Lil Rascal, and of course, Chance, the big black Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix. All characters in the story are based on Sandra's real life family.

The book is filled with softly blended watercolor photos of her loved ones. Her most significant adoption was her son, Terry. He was considered a special needs child because he was born with a genetic disorder known as Fragile X Syndrome. The disorder can cause many cognitive disorders, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation and depression.

The list is a part of PBS Kids' "It's My Life" which deals with life and the stuff that kids deal with every day. Whatever problem a child is dealing with, believe it or not, other kids and teens have gone through the same thing. At "It's My Life", kids can read informative articles, share stories, play games and activities, take quizzes and polls, watch video clips of other kids talking about their feelings and experiences, get advice from older kids and experts, and contribute comments and questions. "It's My Life" also features interviews with celebrities about stuff they had to go through when they were kids.

"It's My Life" is organized across six topic "channels": Friends, Family, School, Body, Emotions, and Money.

No subject is off-limits. The aim is to cover issues important to kids, and the site is filled with young people's comments, ideas, and questions sent in from all over the world. "It's My Life" is for kids, about kids, and most importantly, by kids. After all, it's YOUR life!

"It's My Life" is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting through its "Where Fun and Learning Click" initiative to create safe, engaging, and educational online media for kids aged 9 to 12.

Nicole Langan
Tribute Books
PO Box 95
Archbald, PA 18403
Phone: 570-876-2416
Fax: 570-876-2416mail:
Web Site:

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Wall Decals are the easy way to Decorate & Redecorate

Wall Decals are the easy way to decorate rooms without the mess of painting. We all get bored with rooms after a while and like to change things up. This is especially true if you have a little one that is ready to go from teddies and ballons to dora and bugs bunny to Spiderman and Superman. Whether its bedrooms, playrooms, bathrooms or family rooms; peel & stick decals are the easy way to transform rooms in mintues. We feature a wide selection of designs that are fun and installation is a breeze. These wall graphic vinyl peel and sticks are durable, washable, and easy to move. You can put up and take them down without losing their ability to stick. Plus your walls stay clean and you won't find sticky residue on the surface. 
Movies, TV & Comic Characters Include:  Batman, Yogi Bear, Star Wars, Star Trek

Home Decor: Transform your home with gorgeous designs from country to urban chic and wall mirrors.

Kids Rooms and Nurseries:, including popular designs like animals, jungle, flowers, cars, trucks, and fire engines

Peel and Stick Helpful Hints:

  • Clean wall and make sure it is dry. For newly painted walls let paint "cure" for 10 to 15 days prior to applying decals. Even if new paint feels dry, it may still need to settle and completely cure.
  • Not recommended on "Orange Peel" textured walls, over cinder blocks, very textured and porous surfaces, wallpaper or delicate surfaces.
  • OK to apply onto tiles as long as the surface is clean and completely dry during installation. Make sure the design element does not overlap grout area as water could filter under and compromise the adhesive.
  • Apply onto shower walls, as long as they are placed tightly onto the surface so water cannot reach under the design element. Once applied, RoomMates will not move even if sprayed by shower.
  • DO NOT Place RoomMates decorated items in dishwater, microwave, rugs, fabrics and any other textiles. Textile fibers may stick to the adhesive and ruin the product.
  • Do not place at the bottom or inside the tub. Water could filter beneath the design element too easily and would compromise the adhesive.

Removing air bubbles

When applying, make sure you start from one side (for the border) or the top (for the appliques) of each element. Keep the rest of the element away from the wall/surface. Slowly go down over the design with your hand and smooth the element onto surface (and press the bubbles out as you go). Once applied you should be able to move any remaining bubbles out by pressing/smoothing them out of the element. If the problem persists (this would only happen with the giant decals), you can punch a tiny (invisible to the eye) hole with a pin to push the air out.

NOTE: In all applications, it is always best to test wall decals in an inconspicuous area. If the surface is textured, performance could be seriously diminished. Make sure surface is clean of dust and dirt or you may compromise the adhesive and ruin the product.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Toddler Toys: Getting them Ready for the Next Step

Many toys on the market look neat, but are they safe for toddlers. As they grow,  toddlers often grow out of infant toys quickly, which might lead to them feeling bored and restless. Why not get them toys that are meant specifically for their age group? Prevent boredom and promote safety among youngsters that are no longer infants but are too young for most regular children's toys.

New item: Farm Wall Panel Activity Toy

Toddlers tend to love walking around, which means their previously adored infant toys are often left in the dust as they explore their options around the house. Keep them busy by allowing them to have fun while on the move. Little girls often love small shopping carts or strollers for their baby dolls that they can push around everywhere they go. The perfect solution is to allow them to fill a small cart with their top toys. The simple action of pushing the cart around can help them practice their balance while having fun and pretending they're shopping like mom and dad.

Toy Link: Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart

While your toddler might not be expected to learn the alphabet or how to count just yet, you can ensure that they learn the basics during playtime. There are lots of blocks and and other toys with letters and numbers on them, allowing your child to get acquainted with basic concepts. The same can be done with shapes. Placing shapes into the corresponding gaps of a box or stacking might not sound like fun for you, but for most toddlers, this challenge can provide hours of fun.

Toy Link: Toy Blocks

Many toys even simply specialize in letting toddlers get to know different sounds and awareness of materials. Toddlers do not automatically know what buttons and zippers are or even how mirrors work. You can let them explore toys that teach them these concepts, or you can play with the toddler toys together to ensure they get the most out of them.

Toy Link: Kids Shatter Resistant Mirrors

Toddlers are more receptive to learning than many people think. This is often a good age to teach them basic concepts before enrolling them in preschool, and toddler toys can help. Of course, such toys can also keep them busy for hours at a time, especially once they have outgrown infant toys. Don't let them miss out on fun just because they are not old enough for many toys. Just focus on getting them some that are appropriate for their age group, which should be easy given the variety available.