So long, 2012! It’s been great!

2012 was a year of change, but a year of blessing, for me and my family.

I’m in the middle of my third year of teaching deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students and in my second year as an itinerant teacher – I travel from school to school and work one-on-one with DHH students.  That means I get the students who are able to speak and hear well enough to function in a general education classroom, but who are still struggling academically as a result of their hearing loss.  I love my job.  My co-workers are amazing, my students are fun to work with, and the classrooms and teachers I work with are great!  I am continually amazed at how God has blessed me with a job so fit for me.  I laugh a lot, especially when my students say things like: “I’m starting to think this is a tiny version of Alcatraz” [referring to my lesson on summarizing]. WHAT?

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My fantastic co-workers

This summer, God called me to take a second job as Kindergarten Director at River Pointe Church.  I had started volunteering in pre-school ministry with 4-year-olds.  In May, the early childhood director asked if I would be interested in the Kindergarten Director position.  It was all perfect timing – the 4 year olds I had been teaching promoted to Kindergarten my first week as director.  It was incredible!  Most of the kids already knew me, and I was able to continue to build those relationships and start building relationships with the amazing volunteers.  I loved my job – it is my dream job when I am a mom.  But with the school year starting back up, it was too much on my plate!  I was working 7 days a week.  My co-workers and boss there were INCREDIBLE, knowing I was overwhelmed, and doing everything they could to help me!  We looked for a long time for someone to replace me.  In November, Sarah took over: she is AMAZING and an incredible asset to the staff at RPC.  I miss my sweet and crazy kindergarteners, but I am much less stressed!

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Small groups during my last week at RPC]

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Tara (Saturday Coordinator), Sarah (new Kindergarten Director), and I

If you have talked with me, or seen my Facebook at all this year, you probably know that I have spent a lot of time social dancing in the past year (lindy hop / swing, and country).    In a swing dancing workshop, the skill of “following” finally made sense to me.  You might say I became obsessed or addicted.  I have acknowledged it and have gotten it mostly under control  🙂 .  Dancing has truly helped me come out of my shell: I can now approach a stranger and strike a conversation (or even ask for a dance), communicate with people and guide “small talk,” I learned that I am not obligated OR entitled to dance with anyone, I am confident in who I am (even when I fall flat on my back.  Twice.  Within 10 minutes.), and my desire to share my love for Christ with others has grown immensely.  I love that God has used dancing to change who I am for the better – there was definitely an adjustment period where I got a little carried away, but in the end, I don’t regret one minute.

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My dancing buddy and one of my best friends, Melissa

I’ve made many great friends dancing.  Melissa and I got involved in a group that cooks themed (usually gourmet) dinners every week.  It has definitely helped me expand my palate (I’m much more open to trying new foods.  Although, I’m still a bit of a picky eater)!  Some of my favorite themes this year were “Back to School: Apples” and “Places” (my idea!).

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“Foods Named After Places” Edition: Waldorf salad, Brussels sprouts, Chicken Kiev, and Texas Toast

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Wild West Wednesday Dinner (this happens to be Texas themed)

My brother, Nick, and sister-and-law, Olivia, graduated college.  I have completely grown to love Olivia more than a sister!  She is such an amazing woman, and somehow, Nick and I get along way better when she’s around! Growing up, Nick and I were either best-of-friends or worst-of-enemies at all times — it’s a huge improvement!  Then, they moved 8090 miles away to teach English to Taiwanese students in Taiwan.   I’ve done a lot of Google Chat, Google Voice, Skype, and Google Hangouts this year. Check out their blog: Nick and Liv Go Abroad.

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Nick and Olivia at the Fongguei Cave in Penghu, Taiwan

If you’ve been keeping up my blog, I have been doing a lot of crafting, baking, and sewing this year.  It’s been fun to open up my creative side and learn some new skills (sewing is still a struggle for me, but I’m actually enjoying it!). Feel free to surf my blog to check out what I’ve been up to this year!

My biggest blessing has been the amazing people in my life.  Especially my closest friends and my family.  I am so thankful for them.  I have been close to Rebecca and Elizabeth for a long time – but this past year has grown our friendships so much!  Melissa and I have been friends for over a year now, and despite our very different personalities, we became close quickly.  We’ve made efforts to stay in touch and keep up the friendships despite all having busy lives.  I love my monthly girls’ nights with these amazing ladies!

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Rebecca, Elizabeth, Melissa, and Emmelyn –
Our typical attitudes.

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Merry Christmas! Skyping on Christmas day

Here are some other fun things I did in 2012!

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Going to gardens in Texas with my Johnson grandparents

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Finished my first 5K for Attack Poverty with Rebecca [Note that I didn’t say “ran” my first 5K…]

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After 11 years in the Comet Optometry study, I am now going to have to start paying for glasses, optometrist visits, and more. Maybe Lasik for 2013…

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This summer, my family visited my current favorite place in the world – my grandparents’ home in Gig Harbor, Washington. This is the view. Love.

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I have wanted a DSLR for a long time – since I was in such a beautiful setting (Washington State), and had been saving up, I decided to go for it! Despite not remembering much from my digital photography class, I’ve had a lot of fun with the auto settings 🙂 Maybe I’ll actually learn how to use it in 2013!

The Prepcats Swing Dance team I was a part of – performing at Sugar Land TEDx

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Skeeter’s minor league baseball game

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Traveling to Port Aransas with the Elder family for the Harvest Moon Regatta

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Harvest Moon Ball – Swing dancing

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The amazing girls from the church group I am involved in. It was a Christmas Sweater party!

Happy New Year!

~ Emmelyn

Auditory / Listening Activities

As a traveling teacher for deaf and hard of hearing students, I work with some of my students on awareness of sounds, environmental noises, and more!  I finally decided to compile a list of my favorite resources.

Before I start – here is a great video to help you understand the effects of a hearing loss:

Environmental Sound & Picture Games [Interactive]

  • Little People Animal Sounds Game – An animal noise is heard, and the child has to select which (cartoon) animal made the sound.  The game is the same few animals each time (in a different order), so playing it a number of times in a row may result in inaccurate results.
  • Curious George / Cows Don’t Quack – Animal Sounds; the animals have mixed up their sounds.  Drag the speech bubbles (with a different animal sound) to the right animals.  Adds more animals each round.
  • Listening Games (Transportation, Sounds Around the House, or Water) – There are 3 different games to choose from.  Each question / sound shows you 3 picture choices each time.
  • Magic School Bus Environmental Sounds – There are a few rounds of this game.  The child listens to a sound, and has to select from 5 pictures (matching). There are 3 rounds of this game.  The game does not change if you play it again: environmental sounds such as phone ringing, alarm clock, whistle blowing, fire truck, etc.  5 picture choices each time, 3 rounds.
  • Sound Match Game – 5 sounds each time, usually in category (one is animials, another is instruments).  The pictures are very small.
  • Boogie Band Studio Game – Listen to the pattern and then repeat.  Easy, medium, and hard levels.
  • Scholastic Sound Matching Game – Plays an animal or instrument, the child has to select and drag the correct picture.  8 options.

Environmental Sound / Written Word Games [Interactive]

  • Sound Monster Game – Gives child a sentence to read, has a selection of 4+ sounds (can listen to as well as see written word “bzzz”).  Child has to select correct sound. (Example: A bee goes ____.  They can listen to 4 sounds, and have to drag and drop the “bzzz” one.)
  • Animal Sounds – The child listens to the sound and then types the name of the animal heard from a word bank of 21 animals.
  • Who Am I –  asks users to guess sounds made by 20 animals heard at night.

Phonics, Listening, and Reading Games  [Interactive]

  • Between the Lions / Pounce – Pounce on the written word that matches the sound.  It then shows a picture of that word.
  • Between the Lions / Fuzzy Lion Ears – Listen to words & choose the missing letter (shows a picture of the word as well)
  • What’s in the Bag – Listen to 3 clues; Example: Fruit, eat (with chewing sounds), stem.  Then, select from 3 pictures and words the correct item (peas, ice cream, apple)
  • Picture Match – 3 different game options: Beginning Letter Sounds, Short Vowel Sounds, Long Vowel Sounds – Have to match pictures based on sounds.
  • Clifford’s Sound Match – Find the words that begin with the same letter (gives you a pan, will read any word to you, have to drag and drop words with the same beginning sound)
  • Reading Rover’s Sound Check – This game requires a child to distinguish words that differ by the initial sound or phoneme.  The child should click the picture that has a different first sound than the other three pictures. (Adobe Flash Player required)
  • Alien Scavenger Hunt – asks players to choose the sounds they hear in the word presented.
  • Lanolin’s Greenhouse Beginning Sounds – “Listen to a word /sock/.  If you change the beginning sound to /r/, which is the right picture?” Child selects from 2 choices.
  • Phoneme Manipulation Pumpkin Patch – “Listen to the work /book/.  Which word is /book/ without the /b/ sound.”  Child selects from 2 choices.

Classroom or At Home Listening Activities (In order from easy to difficult)

  • Wake-up Bell – Play a simple game of pretending to sleep and waking up when you hear a bell ring. Take turns with the child being the sleeper and ringing the bell. [Preschool Express]
  • Egg Timer – Set and hide an egg timer somewhere in a room. Have child try to find it before or after it rings. [Preschool Express]
  • Sound Bottles – Small black film cans are great for this activity. Fill 8 cans with food items. (2 with salt; 2 with rice; 2 with macaroni, 2 with large dried beans.) Seal cans and mix them up. Have child try to find matching sound [Preschool Express]
  • Start / Stop – Using two noise makers, such as a bell and a drum, instruct child to walk when he hears the bell and to stop when he hears the drum. He will want a turn making the sounds, too. [Preschool Express]
  • Rhythm Game –  Have the child sit with you. Then use a flat base and create a rhythm, something like one slow beat, then two fast ones. Ask the child to repeat what you did. When the child has been successful in doing the same, add more taps and beats and vary the rhythm to make it more difficult. This allows the child to listen and keep the rhythm and sequence in mind, which automatically increases the child’s auditory memory. [Buzzle]
  • Number Game – Make a simple combination of numbers, for example – 5-4-9. Then ask the child to repeat. Slowly start increasing the numbers and increase the level of difficulty by using double digit combinations. This will require more concentration and better understanding. You can also make it more interesting by adding a tune to it and having the child repeat it. [Buzzle]
  • Simon Says – Play the classic kids game Simon Says. When the leader calls out an instruction such as “Touch your nose,” the players are supposed to follow the instruction only when it’s accompanied by the words “Simon says.” If a child with weak auditory memory is struggling with the concept, you could omitthe Simon Says part and make it a game of following simple directions. On the other hand, if a child is doing well, increase the complexity of the instructions. You can say, “Simon Says touch your nose with one hand and your mouth with the other hand.” [Livestrong]
  • Tootie-Ta – Listening and following directions chant (see linked video)
  • Read and Remember – Read a simple story to the child.  At the conclusion, ask questions about it, starting with easy ones such as “Who wanted to eat the three little pigs?” [Livestrong]
  • Add to the List – Start a silly list and let the child add to it. You can say, “I’m going to outer space, and I’m going to bring a broom.” Your child says, “I’m going to outer space, and I’m going to bring a broom and an apple.” Each player repeats the list and adds an item. Some people play the game by adding items in alphabetical order, so the first thing could be an apple, the second one a broom, the third a cat, and so on. [Livestrong]

Phonics, Listening, and Reading Games  [Offline]

  • Discrimination Cards by Dave Sindrey – Printable cards that you can use to distinguise sounds in words

Advanced Listening Activities

Other Helpful Websites:

Some of the great resources I used:

Year-Round Full and Beautiful Wreath!

I like wreathes.  But I am a little bit picky about them.  I made this one, and I love it.  I usually have it over a large mirror in my kitchen:

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But, since I keep it above my kitchen table, I wanted one for my door!  I found this tutorial and love it!  I love that I can change the colors out depending on the season 🙂  It ended up costing between $40-50 just for materials to make each one, but I will keep it up all year long and change it depending on the season!

My best friends and I had a girls’ crafting day to each make a wreath! I’m just going to let the pictures tell the story:

Again, here is a link to the full wreath tutorial.   Here is the tutorial we used for the hydrangea wreath.