Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finley's Scary Story

Don't get nervous.  Nothing scary happened to Finley.  She wrote a scary story, and today she got to read it.

The back story is - A local bookstore in a neighboring town does an annual scary story contest where kids from grades 1-6 can submit a story.  Finley's teacher emailed the other day and said that several kids had written great stories and she wanted to send them in to the contest.  It wasn't limited to our school district - it could be any one.

There were 150 entries, and they chose 9 stories from those.  3 from grades 1-2, 3 from grades 3-4, and 3 from grades 5-6.  Finley one FIRST PLACE in the 1-2 grade stories!  We were really excited and so was she.  She LOVES to write.  Her teacher tells us that many times she uses Finley's stories as examples for the class, or puts them on their "wall of fame".

The teacher enlarged the story for her so Finley could see it, and that seemed to work very well.  Finley was really nervous, but had an agreement with her teacher that if she got too nervous, Mrs. H would come up and help her.  So that helped a lot.

I missed the beginning of her story on video because as soon as I got her on the stool at the podium, she started to read.

Just so you know - she is wearing her Halloween costume.  All the kids were told they could wear them if they wanted.

For winning the contest, she got a certificate, a bag of goodies (which she couldn't wait to get into), and a $20 gift card to use at the bookstore (which she used before we even left).  Then Mat and I got her a My Little Pony doll she had been craving, and her teacher got her a notebook and a Skeleton pen.  She had a good day.

We took a few pictures - enjoy!

Finley starting her reading:

 This is Finley's teacher.  Finley adores her.  After today - she has gained about 1000 points in our book:
 This little cutie is in Finley's class and was the third place winner.  So cool that there were two winners out of one class considering all the entries!  Finley said she and little "C" are becoming good friends.  Glad she has another buddy who loves to write:
 Finley's certificate:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Picking 2013

It is that time of year again.  I wonder when the kids will be too old, and think getting pumpkins is more of a chore and no longer fun.

For now, I have three eager children who love to walk through the pumpkins to find that perfect one.  Sunday we got our pumpkins, carved them out, and put them out on the porch.  It is the one Halloween tradition we don't mind.

Enjoy the pictures:

 Finley was determined to take home the most "Charlie Brown" looking pumpkin:

 She also wanted to clean them all:

 She finally found the one!
 Then she tried to go around the patch and stand them all up.  We had to get her out of there.

 We told her if she could carry it - she could have it:

 The three little Halloween monsters:

 Arlington was not pleased that she had to put her hands in the pumpkin:

 Mat was in charge of carving:
 She started to get into her role of being disgusted

 Finley didn't mind it.  Although she told us she was sad she was removing the pumpkins "Brains"
 Such a boy:

 All three being "grossed out"
 The finished product.  Arlington didn't WANT a face on hers:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blindness Awareness continues

We are continuing on this month with learning what it is like to be a blind individual.  Most people have no idea how much extra time it takes people who are blind to do certain things (especially in unfamiliar locations) and so this is where the trusty white cane comes in.

Finley has had a cane since she was 4.  She still doesn't use it on a consistent basis, but on occasion.  She has orientation and movement (O+M) (cane training) once a week for an hour with a spectacular O+M.  She has taught Finley so much for far.  Not only does she teach her technique, she takes her on walks outside of the school, talks to her about safety, and how to use what she has to get around.  (hearing, monocle, etc).  She also is responsible in making sure the entire school is as safe as it can be for Finley to get around.  She is a huge part of the team.

When you think about having a blind/vision impaired child in a regular classroom, there are a lot of things you wouldn't consider.  All doors have to be marked with bright tape so if they are left open, she can tell that and doesn't run into them.  All wires and carpets have to be taped down.  All chairs have to be pushed in (can you imagine how hard this one is for 7 year olds?)  Lots of clutter in a room has to disappear and the teacher can't rearrange the classroom a ton of times a year.  This is just the tip of the iceberg of what changes the classroom teacher had to do to have Finley in class (and she took it in stride).

This is where organization is key.  A teacher cannot be unmotivated to keep the classroom clean and orderly.  While it wasn't the sole reason Finley's teacher was chosen this year, it was a big one.  Safety ranks pretty far up there when it comes to educating a blind child.

So, the other day, I had Finley demonstrate her cane skills.  Just a couple short seconds a video so you can see what she learned.


First video is Finley coming down our outside steps.  Steps are hard for her, especially if she is unfamiliar, or moving to fast.
This next video is her using her tap/touch technique.  This is the technique that she uses most often outside, or in wide hallways.

The video after this one is her coming up the stairs.
This is the diagonal cane technique.  This one is used inside, or against walls.  It helps prevent her from bumping into things in front of her - like you will see:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sidewalk Chalk Braille

Finley's TVI (teacher for the vision impaired) has come up with a clever way to get Finley to do her homework each night.  (remember me telling you she was awesome?)

She and Finley came up with a list of all different things to do for homework.  "Read a book", "write your name five times in braille on the brailler", etc. etc.  And one - "write braille with sidewalk chalk".  They cut each task out and folded each paper in half and then put them in a bag.  EAch day, she is supposed to pull one paper out of the bag and that is what we day.

The one that came out today was "Sidewalk Chalk Braille"

She was very excited.  She even got our neighborhood kids involved.  They were excited to help.

I wrote the names of the kids (and the dogs) on the driveway, and then Finley drew the braille.  Then her friend (M) colored in the dots.  It was a lot of fun.

Finley drew the braille very fast, and not a single mistake.  She has it now.  I was impressed.

Here is her "art"

Finley wrote the braille, and then "M" colored them in:

All the kids played together in the yard today.  It was a beautiful day.  Cool, but not cold.  Sunny and breezy.  A great day to be outside.

Arlington and her friend (and neighbor) "C" spent the whole day together.  They are going as a duo for Halloween, so they worked on their costumes today.

The dogs even got in on the fun and chased each other around the yard.