Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crafting the Holidays

The huge problem used to be how to find out what my boy with
autism wanted for Christmas. His answer, "presents," left a lot
of options on the table.
Only recently have I worried about the giving side of the equation.
One answer is crafts.
We need to keep crafts simple around here,  
so we're talking basic ideas like bookmarks and pencil jars with easy instructions. The more crafty among you 
may not need a book, but a book may help you keep it simple 
and spark new ideas.
My favorite is Gifts to Make for Your Favorite Grown-Up,
simple and direct.
Online, you can find a million crafts (and a million ads).
Here is a link to firstpalette, the site from which the bookmarks pictured above came. And here's The Crafty Crow
suggested by my craftiest friend.
This site features a list of craft/art books for kids 
on the right sidebar.
If you have a very crafty/high skills kid, you may be
interested in, which gives skills challenges and
lets kids submit their own projects. 
-Spectrum Mom

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Talent Tuesday - I Go Exploring

Writer Gaynell Buffinet Payne has long written about her own child and the needs of children with autism in general in her blog
Wildflowers for Jade,  and in articles for other publications, including Nashville Parent Magazine and Attachment Parenting 
Now she branches out in a new direction with a children's book based on the imaginative adventures of a young child. Here's the
information from her post:

"Chase and Pip are here! Kindle version and in paperback. Beautifully illustrated story of fun adventure in rhyming verse, for kids ages 2-5.

This is my first published book. It even has my name as "Gaynell Payne (Author)" How exciting is that? And yes, you will be supporting a single mother of a child who has Autism as well! (Shameless plug, maybe, but it's true.)
If you want a hard cover book, stick around just a little bit longer, it's coming soon!"

And here's a link to the post itself.
Jacqueline Buffinet did the illustrations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bear Says Thanks

I am thankful for Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. 
There are a lot of read aloud rhyming stories, but Wilson's Bear series (Bear Snores On etc.) uses rhyme and repetition to engage readers in an ursine centered world as warm and cozy as Bear's cave filled with furry friends around a campfire in winter.
When my son with autism listed things that made him glad last week, he wrote that reading the rhymes in Bear's Lost Tooth did. 
For him, the discovery of a new Bear story is a delight.
And in a recent shipment of books to review, we found a real treasure (just in time for Thanksgiving): Bear Says Thanks.
Here is my boy's review:
"Bear has nothing and he misses his friends at the
beginning. He wants to make a dinner, but his cupboard
is bare.
'Oh my, a huckleberry pie, but I have nothing,'
he says with a sigh. 
It made me thankful when Bear said 'thanks.'"
This is a great read aloud book. The repetition of
the word "thanks" gives children a chance to 
read along with you. I had a classroom full
of first graders enthusiastically chiming in and 
loving the surprise when Bear suddenly says something
Happy Thanksgiving. May you all have reason
to say thanks.
-Spectrum Mom

For more about Karma Wilson and Bear, visit her website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Animals Really Like

"Cows can't dig. Lions can't arrange flowers. 
Horses can't go deep sea diving because they're not seahorses."
What Animals Really Like by Fiona Robertson
is a picture book performance of animals who sing about 
what they really like to do, destroying the original musical composition by Maestro Timberteeth, the unimaginative beaver who is conducting them.
Both the idea of a song and the outrageously silly exploits of the animals entertained and amused my sons. 
My boy with autism stretched out on the floor and sang the book
to himself (he provided the music, which is only implied in the book).
The quote above is from him as he joyously contradicted the assertions of the book's characters.  
He liked the book because "it's funny."
The more absolutely silly a book is, the greater its appeal
to him. Emotions and plot developments 
fail to engage his interest, singing animals with absurd 
past times instantly rivet his attention.
So if you need a giggle, check this one out.
-Spectrum Mom
Next Wednesday: What happens when Bear Gives Thanks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back . . . Again

Yesterday I tried to get my son to cross the aisle. 
Perhaps you have one in your library? 
I mean the aisle that separates the easy readers from the juvenile fiction.
But he went back, back to Dr. Seuss.
Back to The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, which we do not own for some reason.
I told him I would check the book out for him if he would write a review, so he did.
Twenty-one lines of exactly what happened in the book. Here’s a sample:
“Little Cats A, B, and C pop out and work together as a team to clean the bed with the T.V.
Little Cats D, E, F, and G pop out, but they wind up making more snow spots 
because they need more help.
Litte Cats H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, and V pop out and try their best, 
but they make one BIG spot.”
So I discussed the difference between a synopsis and a summary with him, and asked for a summary of three to four lines. I also told him that reviewers say what
they like and dislike and explain why. 
So this is his review:
“There is a spot scene in the book The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.
The spot scene is because of the Cat in the Hat eating cake in a tub.
The cat first cleans the spot alone.
After that, the little cats come to help.
Voom makes the spot go away.
I liked the book.
I liked the rhymes and the voom.
I dislike the spot.”
He always dislikes whatever the problem is in a book,
which I think is one of the reason he is not interested
in moving on from picture books. Books for older readers
are about problems. Even setting aside the grim dystopian
tomes other twelve year olds seem to be reading, any
book above easy level (and many in that category)
tell the story of someone overcoming a problem. If
my boy wrote them, there would be no problem. Which is,
itself, a problem.
Anyway, both of us highly recommend The Cat in the Hat
Comes Back
-Spectrum Mom

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Read Aloud by Mem Fox

In honor of Mem Fox's visit to the Nashville Public Library Tuesday evening, today's All Grown Up post is from the first chapter of her book Reading Magic. You can hear her read this excerpt and more on her website.
Do It Like This
 Section 1
An American father once said to me: "So how do you do this read aloud thing?" I was almost too taken aback to answer. Wasn’t it obvious? Then I realised it wouldn’t be obvious if he hadn’t been read aloud to as a child. I wanted to say: "Well, you know—find a book, get a child, and sit down and read the book to the child," but it seemed so simple that I was too embarrassed to say it.
When I see a read aloud session in my mind’s eye, there’s either an adult sitting in a big old chair or on a sofa, with a child on the adult’s lap or snuggled up close, sharing a book, or an adult sitting or lying on a bed with the child tucked up, wide eyed, as stories are being read. And the experience is always fantastic.
The more expressively we read, the more fantastic the experience will be. The more our kids love books, the more they’ll pretend to read them, and the more they pretend to read, the more quickly they’ll learn to read. So reading aloud is not quite enough—we need to read aloud well.

When we read the story we are usually familiar with it. We should like it. And naturally we’ll maintain our enthusiasm for it even if we’ve read it five thousand times. As we read the story we need to remain aware of our body position, our eyes and their expression, our eye-contact with the child or children, our vocal variety, and our general facial animation.

There’s no exact right way of reading aloud, other than to try to be as expressive as possible. Each of us will have our own special way of reading a story. For instance when I read the beginning of Koala Lou, my voice swings up and down in the same tune, the same s-l-o-w song, every time:
There was once a baby koala, so soft and round that a–l–l who saw her loved her. Her name was Ko–ala Lou.

The ups and downs of our voices and our pauses and points of emphasis are like music, literally, to the ears of young children, and they love music. Simple tunes also make anything easier to remember, so it’s useful to read a book in exactly the same way every time, and to read the same book over and over again. The more quickly children pick up the "tune" of the words, the more they’ll remember the words and the more quickly they’ll have fun trying to ‘read’ the story themselves, with the same expression as we do.

(Here's one of my posts about choosing read aloud books for children with autism)