Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tutorial: How to Make a Picture Detail Checkerboard (Infant Visual Stimulation)

Damien loving his new picture board, 8 weeks old

Once baby is seeing more details (rather than just outlines), a great way to encourage them to use their vision and give them something interesting to look at and explore is to make a simple picture board.

In How Smart is Your Baby, Glenn Doman recommends adding different colored silhouettes of various objects to your baby's checkerboard, and rotating them regularly so that they don't become "like old wallpaper: beloved but not very stimulating".

There is the recommendation of course but not really any guidance on how to build this rotatable checkerboard. 

Here was my solution:

I printed out the colored silhouettes and attached them to black and white squares, then laminated them. My original idea was to stick velcro dots on the back of each one along with velcro dots on the board, but with as many squares as there were it would end up not only being costly in velcro but also difficult to store all the now-bulky cards.

My solution was to make clear pockets on the checkerboard where the squares could be slid in, using clear contact paper. This tutorial will show you how to make those pockets.


The materials you will need are:
  • The checkerboard (a piece of foam board with 5-inch black squares glued on - tutorial here)
  • The picture cards (printable color silhouette version available here, as well as a stencil [ink-saving] version here)
  • 12-inch wide roll of clear contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Yard stick (or ruler, straightedge

1. Cut a piece of contact paper that goes about an inch over each end of the checkerboard.

2. Cut that piece in half, to six inches wide. The piece you will use for your pocket should look like the one above.

The next step is to take that piece of contact paper, and fold part of it over so that it sticks to itself and creates a clear, non-sticky plastic pocket.

3. Use yardstick/ruler to make a straight line that is 2.5 inches away from the edge, then fold at that line, backing-side up, and crease with your fingernail. 

You will then have this (above): a 2.5 inch "pocket"with one inch of sticky contact paper on the bottom to secure pocket to board.

4. Next, cut a piece out of the ends where they will wrap around. This part will secure to the back of the board. 

The end result will look like this (above). It is important that you cut out this rectangle about a quarter inch past the end of the board. You don't want any of the sticky part of the contact paper to be on the front of the board - if there is, the picture cards will stick to it when you slide them to the edge.

5. Next, unfold contact paper, lay flat, and carefully remove backing.

6. Take the contact paper and very carefully fold it over so that the "pocket" section sticks to itself. Start in the middle, at the edge, and carefully smooth out little by little towards one end, then go back to the middle and smooth out towards the other end.

Note: you will notice from the above pictures that the contact paper was actually folded "backwards" when it still had the backing on it. This is very important to do because then it will "stand up". If you fold it the other way, as soon as you take off the backing the entire thing will stick to itself and will not be smooth at all.

Your end result should look like this.

7. Flip over the pocket you just made and line up the bottom of the non-sticky part with the bottom of one row of boxes on the checkerboard.

8. Smooth out pocket so it sticks securely to board.

9. Pull on end pieces as hard as you can to make the pocket lay as flat and tight as possible, then wrap around and attach sticky ends to back.

The end result (after you've added all of your pockets) should look something like this.

The folding and sticking the contact paper to itself is the hardest part - I actually had to throw away three different "pockets" due to incurable bubbles and wrinkles that happen when the contact paper sticks to itself too soon. Try not to be too worried about perfectionism, though - the point is to grow your baby's vision, not win any kind of award.

10. After you've made your board, get out your cards, slide some of them into the pockets, and enjoy!

It's as good idea to change out your cards and/or move them around daily. Keep baby visually exploring and, in turn, visually growing!

"Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see..." 
Isaiah 37:17
Damien is 8 weeks old

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Damien's First Anatomy Lesson: "This is Your Foot!"

"Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:" 
Psalm 8:6
Hunter is 6 years, 4 months old
Damien is 7 weeks, 6 days old

Monday, July 25, 2011

Damien Crawling at 7 Weeks

I haven't posted a video of Damien on his crawling track since, oh, he was less than a week old.

He has made a lot of progress since those first reflexive movements. 

Since about, oh, five or six weeks old has been really getting the hang of this mobility thing and digging his little feet into the floor intentionally and really getting places.

Another milestone? Less fussing. Which is great. He really seems to be enjoying his mobility.

Damien is 1 month, 2 weeks old (7 weeks)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Damien's Programs 6 Weeks Old

July 16-22, 2011
Stage II on Developmental Profile

We still aren't 100% consistent on checking everything off of our daily lists, but Damien is still growing and developing beautifully, we are getting in lots of cuddling and smiles, and all in all having a great time with this new little one. I try not to beat myself up about "not doing everything". 

The most important thing is to talk to him, hold him, and love him - all of our little "programs" are just fun extras.

Some highlights of another beautiful week with a beautiful boy:
  • He is crawling faster than ever, and more happily, since the addition of a receiving blanket under his head.
  • He has outgrown his contrast board and is wanting more varied, interesting things to look at.
  • His long rang vision is improving. He can see me from across a small room.
  • He is having even more wonderful conversations, "talking" so much and using all kinds of sounds and body language to communicate.
Damien hangs independently for increasingly long periods

(Mobility) Honestly, he is still nowhere near spending the recommended 4-18 hours a day in his crawling track, but his crawling and head control are still doing great. He was averaging probably 30-45 minutes on his tummy in his track daily, but that time has been extremely shortened now that he is crawling so much faster. He usually descends down his inclined track (5.5 feet long) in 2-4 minutes now, instead of 10-20. So his sessions have been shorter, but I haven't really upped the frequency much yet.

(Manual) He hangs from my thumbs completely independently pretty much 100% of the time now instead of only sometimes. He really enjoys this activity. He is in stage II now but I haven't really been practicing the vital release yet.

(Balance) I have been doing a few vestibular exercises, beyond the typical rocking / carrying / moving. He has become really sensitive to movement, and frequently startles when we pick him up too quickly (which is not even very quick). I try and be extremely slow and steady with him because of this.

(Swimming) We had a few sessions of bath tub swimming. Even though I have been cleared by the doctor now I still haven't taken him to the big pool - we plan to this weekend though. He loves "swimming" in the tub though and gets some good movement time in there.

Hunter, 6, showing Damien "square"

(Visual) Damien's vision is growing so fast! He can spot me from across a small room now. I recently wrote how he had "graduated" from his simple checkerboard and is now moving onto more sophisticated visual objects. I am in the works to make him many simple picture boards. I didn't do any light reflexes with him this week, I am really bad at being consistent with that. We haven't done "spotting a light" exercises either.

Also for his visual stimulation program we have done some outline "bit" cards. I can already tell that we are going to need to move onto more detailed outline bits and very soon to move onto "detail within a configuration" type pictures.

(Tactile) Damien's Babinski reflex is very strong, and I think that accounts partially for his substantial improvement in crawling. He is very good at digging his toes into the sides and surface of his track and pushing himself, thanks to his many stimulations. His babinski reflexes have been the most consistent simulation.

Sadly we did not do any hot / cold / pressure stimulations for his tactile program yet this week.

(Auditory) I tried using an air horn to stimulate his vital response, only to find that my dollar store air horn does not work (should I really have been surprised?). Next I tried an air horn app on my phone. Far from loud enough. So we have done the blocks to stimulate his startle reflex now and then but still have to go to the store and get another air horn.

All smiles

Oh, so many smiles! The older he gets, the happier he gets. It is so fun seeing him develop in this area.

(Language) I have been more consistent with our language development program. We have been having many conversations daily, of me talking and giving him the opportunity to "talk" and "answer". I recite our short poem frequently - he lights up for this. He has been developing strongly in this area and his ability to communicate.

 Sleep, Eating, Elimination

(Sleep) Damien is still on a 3-hour schedule, and sleeps for about 5-6 hours straight on most nights. Others he is up every 3 hours. Ugh. I'm sort of working on getting him to sleep longer at nights, but I think I'll have to get him in his own bed, first. (maybe?)

(Eating) There is no news for nursing. He eats, he eats well, he eats quick. Although I think he might have been going through a "growth spurt" because there were a couple of nights that he wanted to eat every 2.5 hours and was somewhat fussy.

(Elimination) Elimination communication still mostly consists of me continuing to help him associate the physical action of having a bowl movement with the sound (words) "poo poo". I haven't been taking him to the potty much, although the two times I did this week, he went without a fuss.

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." 
Luke 2:4
Damien was 6 weeks old this week

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crawling Anywhere

Damien thinks the hotel bed is as good a place as any to practice crawling.

Tummy time? Yes. Getting anywhere? Not so much.

"And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth..." 
Ezekiel 47:9

Damien is 6 weeks, 2 days old [1 month + 2 weeks]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wii's and Reflection

I know Hunter hasn't had much of a spotlight on here lately, but he said something the other day that made me laugh.

We were watching Netflix with the Wii and he suddenly commented,
"Mom, wouldn't it be cool if the Wii remote could reflect off of me and then bounce back to the sensor?"
Haha, I need to write down this kid's random antics more often. :)

"The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:" 
Numbers 6:25
Hunter is 6 years, 3 months old

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Explosive" Brain Growth: Baby's First Month

Damien (at 5 weeks), in the hat that he wore home from the hospital
"From the moment of birth, the rate of growth of the brain is on a descending curve. Each day the brain grows a little less than it did the day before. During the period of greatest growth, the baby is able to take in raw information at a rate that is truly astounding. But this process will be a little bit slower each day." 
Glenn Doman, How Smart is Your Baby?

Brain growth is an inverse property of age, right? The younger you are, the more rapidly your brain is growing.

On the day he turned one month old, I took Damien's measurements. He had gained a whopping two pounds since birth, and grown a full inch. But the most miraculous, I believe, was the growth in his head circumference.

His little brain grew 5 centimeters in his first month.

As an example of what that looks like, compare the picture above of the one below:

Damien at one day old

On a side note, he jumped from being in the 50th percentile (35 cm) for head circumference at birth, to being in the 80th percentile (40 cm) at one month. In short, his brain really is growing at a higher than normal rate.

Incredible, isn't it?

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." 
2 Peter 3:18
Damien is 5 weeks, 1 day old