Dysfunctional Family BINGO

December 11, 2012

hI was reading a great article about how to survive the craziest of your family members at the next family gathering. It involves creating a game, which I’ll explain in detail in a moment. But as I read it, it almost instantly occured to me that, with a minor alteration, this could be an AMAZING game for helping the easily overwhelmed child to not only cope, but have fun at the frenzied family event to come. Here’s the initial version of the game.

You create a couple of BINGO cards with items that are likely to occur at your event–things like Aunt Tilly will complain that the stuffing is too dry, Crystal will show off her naval piercing, and Read the rest of this entry »


MATH-in-MOTION Mondays–Ditty Power

December 3, 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve covered ways to put major motion and minor motion into math, keeping things ordered, watching for details, staying on task, making math into a game, even doing math in the bathtub. But there was one bit of motion that was conspicuously absent because I was saving it for today. That of course would be. . .ditties!!!

The Power of the Ditty
If you’ve known me for a while, you know I truly believe in the power of the ditty. But if you’re newer to Sizzle Bop, let me explain.

The ditty is an amazing tool. Information can be learned and cemented almost effortlessly. And yet, for years, I had missed the value of this incredible learning tool.

The main reason? My son is not musical. He has no natural rhythm. He cannot even clap on the beat. So it never occurred to me to use rhymes or rhythm in teaching him. I assumed it would be a pointless and frustrating exercise to even try.

But then one day . . . Read the rest of this entry »

MATH-in-MOTION Mondays-Changing it Up

November 26, 2012

Sometimes it’s not about the math. Often, our kids are perfectly capable of handling the math concepts in front of them. They’ve done it before. It’s very familiar. In fact, that can almost be part of the problem.
How’s that–you ask?

Well, if they are learning a new concept, they have to focus really hard to learn it. The newness of it may be enough to keep them paying attention. But when the math skill being reviewed is one they fully understand and have seen many times before. . . they may be more likely to lose their focus.

That’s when you need some ideas in your arsenal that add an element, making the old new again.
That usually involves motion, or fun, or both!

Here are some ways to take a traditional math lesson and change it up a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

MATH-in-MOTION Mondays:What’s the Rush?

November 19, 2012

Some kids have lovely handwriting. (Actually, I’ve never really witnessed it myself in our house, but the rumors have circulated for so many years that I’m inclined to believe such children do indeed exist.) For these children, writing is a process they enjoy– the grace of the loops, the cleanness of the letters, the straightness of the lines. Writing seems to be almost calming to them. These same kids tend to take their writing skills directly into their math lessons, dutifully copying down their math problems in a neat and orderly fashion. (Feel the straight columns)

Then…there are the others – the ones I’m far more familiar with. These are the scribblers, the hurriers, the I-can’t-wait-to-go-out-and-play-ers. These kids write out math problems on a page that winds up looking as if some great tragedy hovered over the surface and rained down havoc on the computations below. The erasure marks are huge, sometimes leaving gaping wounds in the pitiable paper. The pencil didn’t just write on the page, it engraved into it, so heavy are the marks. And if there are any columns at all on those addition problems, you’d have a hard time finding them. The contentious digits in the ones place suddenly thinks they’re a member of the tens family, another number has leaned so heavily as to jump two place values and several of the hundreds places have gone missing completely.

For the last two days, we talked about what to do with a child who takes forever doing their math. But today we’re facing a problem that is almost completely the opposite. Today’s child may rush through the process so quickly that little is legible, even less is correct and nothing is learned.

What’s to be done? Read the rest of this entry »

MATH-IN-MOTION Mondays–Major Motion

November 12, 2012

Welcome to MATH in MOTION MONDAY! This is our second installment of exploring the many ways you can put motion into learning math.

Last week we looked at some minor motions to add to your lesson plans. But on some days, “minor” just isn’t enough. If you’re having one of those days where trying to sit still and learn is going to be useless, then MAJOR motion may be called for. There is a downward spiral that frustrated kids sometimes step on. And no amount of explanation or forging forward will get them to step off. It’s better, at such points, to close the books and do something that involves serious movement (and the burning off of excess energy),

However, that doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. We’ll just find a way to take our lesson into the activity. And since this is MATH MONDAY here in Sizzleland, let’s go find some ways to put. . .

Major Motion into Math. Read the rest of this entry »

MATH-IN-MOTION Mondays — Minor Motion

November 5, 2012

Here’s what you typically hear for “keeping your child focused”–
Clear your desk
Sit still.
Feet flat on the floor.
Elbows near your sides.
Be silent.
Breathe deep.
Exhale slowly.
Get ready to work.
Now. . .focus, focus, focus.

Isn’t this what we typically hear as instructions on how to focus?
And for most kids, this might be useful advice. <though I remain skeptical>
But for the Sizzler, this simply won’t work. It can’t.
They have a movement requirement as part of their learning process.
Truth is. . . Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Teaching Advice No One Ever Told You

October 17, 2012

Be quiet. That’s right. Stop talking sometimes, especially at critical thinking moments. This is one of THE hardest things for me to do. Here’s how I typically get it wrong.

“So Glenn, you’ve got two fractions and you need to divide one by the other.”

He begins to think. He’s working it out in his brain. He’s sorting. Accessing. Processing.

But before he’s able to complete the newly forming thought, a little mommy bird begins chirping in his ear.

“Do you remember?”

“What’s the rule again?”

“Think. There’s something special you need to do.”

“How does that little math rhyme go again?”

Peck. Peck. Peck. Read the rest of this entry »

THIS Mom Exhausted by Sizzlers

September 8, 2012

Letter Week is almost over here at Sizzle Bop. We have one more letter we want to share, this time from a Mom who is NOT a Sizzler herself, but runs a house full of them. She’s so busy meeting their oh-so-labor-intensive needs, that she finds she runs dry by the end of the day. Anybody feeling her pain? Take a look.



Do you or your readers have any wisdom for a mom who ISN’T a sizzler?  That mom who has an actual, real need to finish what she starts, to get from point A to point B without visiting point Z, 37-1/2, Mars and all points in between?

I have two boys.  I have your books, and your ideas have literally saved our family and our homeschool.  I love your wonderful messages and your blog. I’m totally on board.

BUT.  (You knew there was a “but…”)

At the end of each day, after I’ve done my Vaudeville show, my spinning and running, and ridden the roller coaster ride that is teaching in our house, I am literally exhausted and completely unhappy.  I have not had many of my OWN needs met. 

My needs are simple: to finish what I start, at least some of the time, to get to the place I started to go, to have some small amount of order and peace.  You can guess how many of those needs get met in a houseful of sizzlers.

It feels that I am catering to their quirks all day long, and because of their… “sizzliness,” they are not ABLE to do the same for me. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s simply that it’s just not possible for me to expect it in return.  So the cycle continues.  I do all it takes to meet their needs, and my own very real needs go unmet.  

As a result it becomes very, VERY hard to keep looking for the positive, to keep making it fun, to keep chasing rabbits with them, to keep them motivated, to stay enthusiastic about all of this.  I don’t always rejoice in intensity of emotion, in dawdling, daydreaming, ignoring my first 15 requests to do something, or in the constant neglect of my own very real needs.  And boy, do I get cranky.  I’m not naturally a cranky person but WOW can I become one.  

What’s a mother to do?  It’s all on me.  And I’m tired of being a Vaudeville act all day long.  I like classical music. 


Dear Classical Mom in a Vaudeville House–

I am honored by your letter. I have heard that women such as you exist who long to finish what they start, who find a rabbit trail excursion distressing, who seek this odd sounding thing they call “order”?

Remember, you’re talking to a woman. . .

Read the rest of this entry »

Homeschool or Public School? Terrified Either Way.

September 5, 2012

Letter Week continues here at Sizzle Bop.

Yesterday we took on LETTER ONE–the issue of learning to Wait Before Speaking, a very tough skill for Sizzlers to learn. We’ve gotten some nice feedback from you on that one. (Thanks, by the way.)

Today, let’s hit a tougher one.

LETTER TWO –Should We Homeschool or Public School? I’m Afraid Either Way!

Here are key pieces of a letter from Carri–

. . .My son (with a severe case of ADHD and mildly autistic) will be in 6th grade this next fall and our schools here are terrible for middle and high school. I have always wanted to homeschool, even before our kids were born, but the challenges with my son were so over whelming that I just did not have the strength or courage to do it. I was scared. I am still scared.

. . .I fear that I will fail him if I send him to public school. I also feel I will fail him if I homeschool him.

. . .He’s also very small for his age. This is also a problem, and I fear it will become worse. . .

. . .I just don’t know what to do. I have no support in this decision. My husband trusts my judgment but is gone a lot for work, so the decision is mostly mine. I could really use some words of wisdom from someone who knows a little about what I am facing. A few encouraging words or some kind of answers to the millions of questions I have. I would really appreciate any help you have time to give.

And now for an answer. . . Read the rest of this entry »

Hold That Thought. . .If You Can

September 3, 2012

Sizzlers often miss what’s going on around them. This can be a problem in many ways. Read this mom’s letter to learn about one of them.

I have a sizzler who is a great talker. The challenge is creating boundaries.  For instance if I need to change little sister’s diaper and little sister is busy playing catch me if you can, it may not be the best moment to ask to play a video game or tell me about a favorite event from 2 weeks ago. Is it even worth trying to set that boundary?  Or is it a futile cause in your opinion/experience?

Thanks for your wisdom!


Dear Sara,

What pleases me most is that you’ve assumed I had wisdom. A thousand blessings on your day.

I have experience. I have headaches. And I even have Sizzler stories I can now laugh about that typically involve some mix of fluids like motor oil and peanut butter. Whether or not I have wisdom has never satisfactorily been determined. The jury is still out. And there are days, my children will tell you, that the jury is not even out. In fact, they’re are IN, have pitched a tent and ordered Chinese for dinner.

Nonetheless, I will provide an answer based on Read the rest of this entry »