A few months ago I was feeling lost when it came to tracking how well my 4 year old non-verbal autistic son, Johnny Ben, was doing academically. Sure, I would see him accomplish things and notice where he had issues. However, I just couldn’t get him interested in certain activities and it was taking me a long time to sit and chart where he was thriving and lacking. We had tried a few online programs and apps with him in the past, but they just didn’t seem to get his attention or were not available on a tablet. (He lacks the coordination needed to use a mouse, but he’s getting close!) I whispered a prayer that God would help me find a preschool curriculum that would match his needs, be fun, and challenge him but also not break our bank. It wasn’t but a few days later that I received an email from Miss Humblebee’s Academy asking if I would be interested in reviewing their program. (Can you see where this is going? It’s pretty exciting!)
Immediately I went to MissHumblebee.com and started looking around. First off I noticed that the program worked on a tablet. Perfect! It may not be an app, but that’s okay. It loads easily on our Android tablets. Second, the characters, music, prizes, and everything else were fun and very animated. Then that was when I saw it: All instructions are audible so that the child can hear what they are to do. They could even be repeated if needed by the press of a button on most lessons. Since my little guy is just coming around to following instructions, this is a MUST HAVE. But would it cover as many subjects as I needed it to? I went on to look at what the lessons consisted of. This is where I was completely sold, because Miss Humblebee doesn’t just cover math and reading, but also science, social studies, art, and music. Not just a little here and there, either, but hundreds of lessons. This wouldn’t be a temporary fix, but something that we could continue to do over time. I can’t imagine what I looked like reading all of this, but if Mary Poppins were in my living room she probably would have told me to close my mouth because I’m not a codfish. This was exactly what I had prayed for!
Now, if you’re at all familiar with special needs children, you might know that they live for routine and hate change. It took a couple weeks of just getting him to want to acknowledge Miss Humblebee. He wasn’t interested in creating his own avatar like most kids would be. He would look out the corner of his eye at what was on the screen, but it took awhile to get him to acknowledge it was there. Being we had done this before, I knew it had nothing to do with Miss Humblebee’s Academy and more to do with it being new to him. I pressed on in a way that would not upset him.
In the beginning he would give in and do a little after a some guidance then push it away, but I could see by the look in his eye that he was intrigued. This was more than just another learning tool, this was fun and like a game. We took our time and warmed up slowly. Sometimes he would only do a little, other times he would just look around at the different options. Options like “Art Box”, “Music Room”, “Choose A Lesson”, “Rewards”, “Sticker Room”, and more. After showing him the classroom every so often, he gradually did a little bit more each time. He loves all the characters, Miss Humblebee’s voice, the music, and the “games”. I’ve never had to help him, nor did I ever have to show him what to do. Miss Humblebee made it all so easy, flying around the classroom and guiding him through the lessons.
What he surprisingly shows no interest in is the rewards/stickers/puzzles, but I’m assuming that is because he doesn’t quite grasp the concept. Miss Humblebee also offers printables, which is a great addition so that you can work on motor skills while keeping with the theme of the curriculum, but Johnny Ben just seems to hate paper (Maybe it’s the sound of it rustling?) so while I printed a few out, he wasn’t having it. So unfortunately I can’t give you an opinion on those aspects. That being said, Johnny Ben’s 2 year old little sister, Molly, is VERY interested in what all Miss Humblebee has to say and offer. So much so that we will be purchasing a subscription for her soon after her 3rd birthday as well. For now we have had to cut back our lessons to when Miss Molly Pop is napping or distracted. 😉 I really wish I had Miss Humblebee when 6 year old Tommy was in preschool also. It’s so fun, easy, thorough, and extremely interactive.
So, I’ve told you that Johnny Ben grew to love it and my toddler is aching to get into Miss Humblebee’s classroom… But how am I tracking Johnny Ben’s progress? Every week I receive an email to let me know that a progress report is available. When that email arrives, all I have to do is click on the link and it’s all right there in my account for me to see. How many lessons he’s completed, how many prizes he has earned, and how much artwork has been saved. I also have access for past progress reports so I can see how he’s coming along. It is exactly what I needed.
I do still believe in hands on constructive play for preschoolers. But these lessons are a great addition to all of the other things we are doing without becoming overwhelming. Besides, it is so much more fun that filling out a worksheet! Again, a complete answer to my prayer!
The price of a subscription to Miss Humblebee’s Academy is $12.95 a month for 1 child and $5 for each additional. Another option is a yearly subscription at $129 for 1 child and $60 for each child after that. Not sure you want to make a commitment just yet? There is also a free 1 week trial so you can see if it’ll work for your child.
By now you’ve probably seen me talking a lot about Building Character With Children, a new program by Shirley Solis, in social media. But just in case you haven’t had a chance to check out the FREE video for yourself, I want to tell you a little bit about how well it has worked for our family.
I am beyond surprised with how her technique of teaching my son to do his chores every morning without being asked has worked! I’ve been trying for a few years to get Tommy, 5, to pitch in a little more around the house. I’m not talking massive housework, just basic chores and taking care of himself. With the advice that Shirley offered in the first free video, he is now doing 5 things every morning before he eats breakfast. He even memorized what the 5 chores are on the first day! It not only worked, but it was so simple on my part. Needless to say, tag me, I’m sold! I wish this woman was in front of me so I could give her the biggest hug.
If you’re wondering if Shirley Solis’ program is good for you, just stop and think about your family for a moment.
Are you frustrated with your children’s attitudes?
Are you tired of doing all the chores around the house?
Do you wish the children helped around the house a little more?
Need creative ways to train your children?
Want to start the year off right and finally train your children consistently?
Are you constantly yelling at your children?
Building Character with Children is a brand new video-based program with homeschool mom, author, and speaker Shirley Solis. In these short, 7-minute videos, Shirley shares her experience as a mom of 6 children, with tips and tricks to build strong, desirable character traits in your children!
In Building Character with Children, you will learn:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Last year, I shared how we learned 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 for our Thanksgiving memory verses. What great verses they are year round! I also shared with you our Thankful Tree. This year I want to share with you our Thankful Turkey.
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Mommy is thankful for:
Daddy is thankful for:
Naomi (6) is thankful for:
Adah (4) is thankful for:
Today’s post is part of day 3 of the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Blog Hop hosted by The Schoolhouse Review Crew. Be sure to check out the other posts by 80+ bloggers who are also sharing ideas on teaching creatively! You can find posts from day 1 (Delight Directed Teaching) and day 2 (Schooling In The Kitchen.) here.
Whether or not you homeschool, if you have kids, you have toys. If you have toys, your kids are learning through play in one sense or another. By encouraging a child’s imagination through pretend play, toys, games, and puzzles you are creatively teaching them concepts from all over the learning spectrum.
Many of these items can be used to teach a specific lesson, or along side a curriculum, as a supplement. My 3 homeschooled children are all still really young, so there is rarely a day that we do not include a toy, game, or puzzle. Here are some items we use and ways that we implement these items in our lessons.
Play-doh: Oh, the joy of Play-Doh, homemade dough, and clay. The list of ways to use it goes on and on. For Science we use it to mold an animal, tree, or parts of anatomy. For reading and learning the alphabet we roll the dough into letters to help the child learn how to form the letter. Most recently, we used it for math to make “donuts” to learn that 12 makes a dozen. Sure, it’s potentially messy and you have to be sure it doesn’t get in the carpet. I can’t recommend it enough though.
Hot Wheels, Trains, Action Figures, etc: It used to be a battle for me to be able to sit down with my children and not have them beg to have a favorite toy by their side. I finally gave in and made a rule that as long as it is not distracting them, they can have it by them. Not playing with it mind you, but next to them. There are times, however, that this comes in handy. Sometimes I need one of the kids to show me that they know a certain color. I will lay out some of these favorite items and have them tell me what color each one is, or ask them to find an item of a certain color. We also use these as counters for math. Tommy is definitely more interested in counting something if it is of interest to him. Also, like play-doh, toys like Hot Wheels and trains can be lined up to form shapes and letters.
Legos & Every Other Kind Of Building Block (There are just way too many different variations to list them all. 😉 ): Once again we have the counters, colors, etc. But the possibilities here are endless. Lego has even launched a whole new company based on Lego Education. K’nex has products for education also. Even a DNA replica set! We’ve used many different types of blocks to explain birds, plants, geography, and more. With our youngest son, Johnny Ben, who is autistic, we have used many textile blocks and gears to help him with sensory exploration. Just watch out and make sure you don’t step on any of these items in the middle of the night. OUCH!
Little People: Who doesn’t love Little People? We’ve used Noah’s Ark to teach the story of Noah. The Farm set to teach about Farm animals. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, ha ha. There are so many sets to use for various teaching supplements. Sometimes we don’t even use them as intended. I’ll have Tommy line up some of the animals or people and tell me the difference in each one, or point to different body parts such as the knees or ear. Oh, did I mention we love Little People?
Puzzles: There are so many themed puzzles out there. But one fun option is to make your own if you have the resources. This can be done with a printer and craft foam. Sometimes I’ll print out a picture of something we are learning, glue it to a sheet of foam, and cut it out for the kids to put back together. My children have grasped so many concepts with this hands-on method. Now, if your husband is like mine and wants to permanently live in his woodshop, then you can have him make you some puzzles… But really, if you just walk down the Dollar Spot at Target or the toy & learning aisle at the dollar store, then you’ll likely find plenty of options for what you are teaching for a lower price.
Games: We often play games like Sequence, Connect 4, Monopoly Jr., Hi-Ho Cherry Oh!, Scrambled States of America, Richard Scary’s Busy Town, Uno, Bible card games, and many others instead of doing an actual lesson. When we do this, I point out many different educational aspects that are happening as we play. During play and after we discuss what we learned. Being a game loving family (Minus my husband. We’ve given up on having him play with us…) so we all love learning this way.
Basically, the point I’m trying to get across is that if your child has a toy, it can be a resource for learning. To be honest, I believe that young children SHOULD involve play with everything. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a time to sit down for direct teaching, but there is no reason it can’t be fun. I do believe that there should be a lot of constructive play in addition to free play. Sparking a child’s imagination makes them curious, and when they are curious, they want to learn.
What are some ways that you use toys, games, and puzzles to help your children learn?
Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win many fabulous prizes in this homeschool giveaway! 3 winners will be selected and the prizes all together value about $1,000. Don’t miss out!